Journal article

Plasticization of poly-L-lactide for tissue engineering

Plasticization of medical grade poly-L-lactide (PLLA) by addition of polyethylene glycol (PEG) with various molar masses has been evaluated as means of producing low stiffness matrices for bioresorbable scaffolds for soft-tissue engineering applications. As reported previously, the Tg of injection molded specimens of the PLLA/PEG blends decreased strongly with PEG content, so that at PEG contents of 15 and 25 wt % it became significantly lower than normal human body temperature, implying an essentially rubber-like mechanical response in vivo. The degree of crystallinity of the moldings also increased strongly with PEG content, reaching a maximum of about 60 wt % at 25 wt % PEG. Moreover, after the immersion in phosphate-buffered saline for 5 days in 37°C to simulate conditions in vivo, the moldings with the highest PEG contents showed increased water uptake and, for relatively low molar mass PEG, significant mass loss, associated with phase separation and leaching of the PEG. Blends with relatively low PEG contents also showed large increases in their degree of crystallinity. The implications of these changes for the in vivo performance of the blends and their potential for development as matrices for bioresorbable scaffolds are discussed in the light of results from a series of PLLA/PEG copolymers.


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