Gels That Serve as Mucus Simulants: A Review

Appu Vinod, Rafael Tadmor, David Katoshevski, Ephraim J. Gutmark

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Mucus is a critical part of the human body’s immune system that traps and carries away various particulates such as anthropogenic pollutants, pollen, viruses, etc. Various synthetic hydrogels have been developed to mimic mucus, using different polymers as their backbones. Common to these simulants is a three-dimensional gel network that is physically crosslinked and is capable of loosely entrapping water within. Two of the challenges in mimicking mucus using synthetic hydrogels include the need to mimic the rheological properties of the mucus and its ability to capture particulates (its adhesion mechanism). In this paper, we review the existing mucus simulants and discuss their rheological, adhesive, and tribological properties. We show that most, but not all, simulants indeed mimic the rheological properties of the mucus; like mucus, most hydrogel mucus simulants reviewed here demonstrated a higher storage modulus than its loss modulus, and their values are in the range of that found in mucus. However, only one mimics the adhesive properties of the mucus (which are critical for the ability of mucus to capture particulates), Polyvinyl alcohol–Borax hydrogel.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number555
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2023


  • gel networks
  • mucus
  • polymers
  • synthetic hydrogels

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Biomaterials
  • Organic Chemistry


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