novel system of body water elimination to be used for the treatment of edemas, based on superabsorbent cellulose derivatives able to absorb large amounts of water and water solutions, has been investigated. Hydrogels have been synthesized starting from water solutions of carboxymethylcellulose sodium salt and hydroxyethylcellulose, chemically crosslinked with divinylsulphone. Polyelectrolyte hydrogels displayed high sensitivity in sorption capacity to variations of the ionic strength and pH of the external solution, which is a key parameter for the application under investigation. Further, swelling properties have been modulated acting on the degree of crosslinking of the macromolecular network, and a direct method for the measurement of this parameter based on NMR solid-state analysis has been provided. The hydrogel biocompatibility has been studied in terms of its capacity either to induce nitric oxide and lactate dehydrogenase release by macrophages or influence their viability. The eventual release of toxic substances from the hydrogel was also investigated using Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts. The results obtained from the biocompatibility studies carried out in this work are consistent with the hypothesis that this gel may represent an alternative to diuretic therapies in those pathologic conditions in which edemas occur. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res 67A: 1016–1024, 2003
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