AbstractThe cell wall of most plant biomass from forest and agricultural resources consists of three major polymers, cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. Of these, hemicelluloses have gained increasing attention as sustainable raw materials. In this study, novel pH-sensitive semi-IPN hydrogels based on hemicelluloses and chitosan were prepared using glutaraldehyde as the crosslinking agent. The hemicellulose isolated from aspen was analyzed for sugar content by HPLC, and its molecular weight distribution was determined by high performance size exclusion chromatography. Results revealed that hemicellulose had a broad molecular weight distribution with a fair amount of polymeric units, together with xylose, arabinose, and glucose. The effects of hemicellulose content on mechanical properties and swelling behavior of hydrogels were investigated. The semi-IPNs hydrogel structure was confirmed by FT-IR, X-ray study, and the ninhydrin assay method. X-ray analysis showed that higher hemicellulose contents yielded higher crystallinity. Mechanical properties were mainly dependent on the crosslink density and average molecular weight between crosslinks. Swelling ratios increased with increasing hemicellulose content and were high at low pH values due to repulsion between similarly charged groups. In vitro release study of a model drug showed that these semi-IPN hydrogels could be used for controlled drug delivery into gastric fluid.