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Keywords:

  • degradation;
  • enzyme;
  • mechanical properties;
  • elastomer;
  • lipase

Abstract

Poly(glycerol sebacate) (PGS), a promising scaffold material for soft tissue engineering applications, is a soft, tough elastomer with excellent biocompatibility. However, the rapid in vivo degradation rate of PGS limits its use as a scaffold material. To determine the impact of crosslink density on degradation rate, a family of PGS materials was synthesized by incrementally increasing the curing time from 42 to 144 h, at 120°C and 10 mTorr vacuum. As expected, PGS became a stiffer, tougher, and stronger elastomer with increasing curing time. PGS disks were subcutaneously implanted into rats and periodically harvested; only mild tissue responses were observed and the biocompatibility remained excellent. Regardless of crosslink density, surface erosion degradation was observed. The sample dimensions linearly decreased with implantation time, and the mass loss rates were constant after 1-week implantation. As surface erosion degradation frequently correlates with enzymatic digestion, parallel in vitro digestion studies were conducted in lipase solutions which hydrolyze ester bonds. Enzymatic digestion played a significant role in degrading PGS, and the mass loss rates were not a function of curing time. Alternative chemistry approaches will be required to decrease the enzymatic hydrolysis rate of the ester bonds in PGS polymers. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res, 2009