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Keywords:

  • association;
  • biodegradable;
  • biomaterials;
  • blends;
  • polyesters;
  • stereospecific polymers

Abstract

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Summary: Poly(lactide)s [i.e. poly(lactic acid) (PLA)] and lactide copolymers are biodegradable, compostable, producible from renewable resources, and nontoxic to the human body and the environment. They have been used as biomedical materials for tissue regeneration, matrices for drug delivery systems, and alternatives for commercial polymeric materials to reduce the impact on the environment. Since stereocomplexation or stereocomplex formation between enantiomeric PLA, poly(L-lactide) [i.e. poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA)] and poly(D-lactide) [i.e. poly(D-lactic acid) (PDLA)] was reported in 1987, numerous studies have been carried out with respect to the formation, structure, properties, degradation, and applications of the PLA stereocomplexes. Stereocomplexation enhances the mechanical properties, the thermal-resistance, and the hydrolysis-resistance of PLA-based materials. These improvements arise from a peculiarly strong interaction between L-lactyl unit sequences and D-lactyl unit sequences, and stereocomplexation opens a new way for the preparation of biomaterials such as hydrogels and particles for drug delivery systems. It was revealed that the crucial parameters affecting stereocomplexation are the mixing ratio and the molecular weight of L-lactyl and D-lactyl unit sequences. On the other hand, PDLA was found to form a stereocomplex with L-configured polypeptides in 2001. This kind of stereocomplexation is called “hetero-stereocomplexation” and differentiated from “homo-stereocomplexation” between L-lactyl and D-lactyl unit sequences. This paper reviews the methods for tracing PLA stereocomplexation, the methods for inducing PLA stereocompelxation, the parameters affecting PLA stereocomplexation, and the structure, properties, degradation, and applications of a variety of stereocomplexed PLA materials.