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1.  Photo-Crosslinked Poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate) Networks for Peripheral Nerve Regeneration: Physical Properties and Preliminary Biological Evaluations 
Acta biomaterialia  2009;5(5):1531-1542.
In an effort of achieving suitable biomaterials for peripheral nerve regeneration, we present a material design strategy of combining a crystallite-based physical network and a crosslink-based chemical network. Biodegradable polymer disks and conduits have been fabricated by photo-crosslinking three poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate)s (PCLF530, PCLF1250, and PCLF2000), which were synthesized from the precursor poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) diols with nominal molecular weights of 530, 1250, and 2000 g.mol−1, respectively. Thermal properties such as glass transition temperature (Tg), melting temperature (Tm), and crystallinity of photo-crosslinked PCLFs were examined and correlated with their rheological and mechanical properties. Furthermore, in vitro degradation of uncrosslinked and crosslinked PCLFs in PBS crosslinked PCLFs in 1 N NaOH aqueous solution at 37 °C was studied. In vitro cytocompatibility, attachment, and proliferation of Schwann cell precursor line SPL201 cells on three PCLF networks were investigated. Crosslinked PCLF2000 with the highest crystallinity and mechanical properties was found to best support cell attachment and proliferation. Using a new photo-crosslinking method, single-lumen crosslinked PCLF nerve conduits without defects were fabricated in a glass mold. Crosslinked PCLF2000 nerve conduits were selected for evaluation in a 1-cm gap rat sciatic nerve model. Histological evaluation demonstrated that the material was biocompatible with sufficient strength to hold sutures in place after 6 and 17 weeks of implantation. Nerve cable with myelinated axons was found in the crosslinked PCLF2000 nerve conduit.
doi:10.1016/j.actbio.2008.12.015
PMCID: PMC2869216  PMID: 19171506
Poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate); Photo-crosslinking; Peripheral nerve regeneration; Cell responses
2.  The Roles of Matrix Polymer Crystallinity and Hydroxyapatite Nanoparticles in Modulating Material Properties of Photo-crosslinked Composites and Bone Marrow Stromal Cell Responses 
Biomaterials  2009;30(20):3359-3370.
Two poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate)s (PCLFs) with distinct physical properties have been employed to prepare nanocomposites with hydroxyapatite (HA) nanoparticles via photo-crosslinking. The two PCLFs are PCLF530 and PCLF2000, named after their precursor PCL diol molecular weight of 530 and 2000 g.mol-1, respectively. Crosslinked PCLF530 is amorphous while crosslinked PCLF2000 is semi-crystalline with a melting temperature (Tm) of ∼40 °C and a crystallinity of 40%. Consequently, the rheological and mechanical properties of crosslinked PCLF2000 are significantly greater than those of crosslinked PCLF530. Structural characterizations and physical properties of both series of crosslinked PCLF/HA nanocomposites with HA compositions of 0%, 5%, 10%, 20%, and 30% have been investigated. By adding HA nanoparticles, crosslinked PCLF530/HA nanocomposites demonstrate enhanced rheological and mechanical properties while the enhancement in compressive modulus is less prominent in crosslinked PCLF2000/HA nanocomposites. In vitro cell attachment and proliferation have been performed using rat bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) and correlated with the material properties. Cell attachment and proliferation on crosslinked PCLF530/HA nanocomposite disks have been enhanced strongly with increasing the HA composition. However, surface morphology and surface chemistry such as composition, hydrophilicity, and the capability of adsorbing protein cannot be used to interpret the cell responses on different samples. Instead, the role of surface stiffness in regulating cell responses can be supported by the correlation between the change in compressive modulus and BMSC proliferation on these two series of crosslinked PCLFs and PCLF/HA nanocomposites.
doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2009.03.015
PMCID: PMC2868517  PMID: 19339048
Polycaprolactone fumarate (PCLF); Hydroxyapatite (HA); Nanocomposite; Photo-crosslinking; Bone marrow stromal cell responses
3.  Preparation and evaluation of poly (caprolactone fumarate) nanoparticles containing doxorubicin HCI 
Background and the purpose of the study
Biodegradable Poly(caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF) has been used as bioresorbable sutures. In this study, doxorubicin HCl (Dox) loaded PCLF nanoparticles were prepared and characterized.
Material and methods
PCLFs were synthesized by polycondensation of PCL diols (Mws of 530, 1250 and 2000) with fumaryl chloride. The degradation of PCLF in NaOH, water and phosphate buffer saline (PBS), was determined in terms of changes in Mw. Nanoparticles (NPs) were prepared by two methods. In microemulsion polymerization method, dichloromethane containing PCLF and photoinitiator were combined with the water containing surfactants and then the mixture was placed under light for crosslinking. In nanoprecipitation method, the organic solvent containing PCLF was poured into the stirring water. The effect of several variables including concentration of PCLF, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), Dox and Trypan blue (Trb) and the Mw of PCLF and PVA on NP size and loading were evaluated.
Result
PCLF 530, 1250 and 2000 in PBS or water were not degraded over 28 days. Nanoprecipitaion method gave spherical (revealed by SEM images) stable NPs of about 225 with narrow size distribution and a zeta potential of −43 mV. The size of NP increased significantly by increase in Mw or concentration of PCLF. Although PVA was not necessary for formation of NPs, but it decreased with NP size. Dox loading and EE were 2.5–6.8% and 15–20%, respectively. Increasing the drug concentration increased the drug loading (DL) and NP size. The entrapment efficiency (EE) for Trb ranged from 1% for PCLF530 to 6% for PCLF2000. An increase in PCLF concentration resulted in an increase in EE. Dox and Trb release showed a burst followed by 80% and 78% release during 3 and 4 days respectively.
Conclusion
PCLF possessed suitable characteristics for preparation of nanoparticulate drug delivery system such as desired NP size, stability and degradation time. Although PCLF530 NPs were the smallest, but their DL were lower than PCLF1250 and 2000 NPs.
PMCID: PMC3232073  PMID: 22615635
PCLF nanoparticles; Copolymer molecular weight; Nanoprecipitation method
4.  Photo-crosslinked Hybrid Polymer Networks Consisting of Poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF) and Poly(caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF): Controlled Physical Properties and Regulated Bone and Nerve Cell Responses 
Biomacromolecules  2008;9(4):1229-1241.
Aiming to achieve suitable polymeric biomaterials with controlled physical properties for hard and soft tissue replacements, we have developed a series of blends consisting of two photo-crosslinkable polymers: polypropylene fumarate (PPF) and polycaprolactone fumarate (PCLF). Physical properties of both uncrosslinked and UV crosslinked PPF/PCLF blends with PPF composition ranging from 0% to 100% have been investigated extensively. It has been found that the physical properties such as thermal, rheological, and mechanical properties could be modulated efficiently by varying the PPF composition in the blends. Thermal properties including glass transition temperature (Tg) and melting temperature (Tm) have been correlated with their rheological and mechanical properties. Surface characteristics such as surface morphology, hydrophilicity and the capability of adsorbing serum protein from culture medium have also been examined for the crosslinked polymer and blend discs. For potential applications in bone and nerve tissue engineering, in vitro cell studies including cytotoxicity, cell adhesion, and proliferation on crosslinked discs with controlled physical properties have been performed using rat bone marrow stromal cells and SPL201 cells, respectively. In addition, the role of mechanical properties such as surface stiffness in modulating cell responses has been emphasized using this model blend system.
doi:10.1021/bm7012313
PMCID: PMC2888142  PMID: 18307311
Photo-crosslinking; Polymer blends; Poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF); Poly(caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF); Controlled physical properties; Cell responses
5.  Reformulating Polycaprolactone Fumarate to Eliminate Toxic Diethylene Glycol: Effects of Polymeric Branching and Autoclave Sterilization on Material Properties 
Acta biomaterialia  2011;8(1):133-143.
Polycaprolactone fumarate (PCLF) is a cross-linkable derivate of polycaprolactone diol that has been shown to be an effective nerve conduit material that supports regeneration across segmental nerve defects and has warranted future clinical trials. Degradation of the previously studied PCLF (PCLFDEG) releases toxic small molecules of diethylene glycol used as the initiator for the synthesis of polycaprolactone diol. In an effort to eliminate this toxic degradation product we present a strategy for the synthesis of PCLF from either propylene glycol (PCLFPPD) or glycerol (PCLFGLY). PCLFPPD is linear and resembles the previously studied PCLFDEG, while PCLFGLY is branched and exhibits dramatically different material properties. The synthesis and characterization of their thermal, rheological, and mechanical properties are reported. The results show that the linear PCLFPPD has material properties similar to the previously studied PCLFDEG. The branched PCLFGLY exhibits dramatically lower crystalline properties resulting in lower rheological and mechanical moduli, and is therefore a more compliant material. In addition, the question of an appropriate FDA approvable sterilization method is addressed. This study shows that autoclave sterilization on PCLF materials is an acceptable sterilization method for cross-linked PCLF and has minimal effect on the PCLF thermal and mechanical properties.
doi:10.1016/j.actbio.2011.08.023
PMCID: PMC3226927  PMID: 21911087
Polycaprolactone fumarate; polyester; sterilization; nerve regeneration
6.  The Development of Electrically Conductive Polycaprolactone Fumarate-Polypyrrole Composite Materials for Nerve Regeneration 
Biomaterials  2010;31(23):5916-5926.
Electrically conductive polymer composites composed of polycaprolactone fumarate and polypyrrole (PCLF-PPy) have been developed for nerve regeneration applications. Here we report the synthesis and characterization of PCLF-PPy and in vitro studies showing PCLF-PPy materials support both PC12 cell and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurite extension. PCLF-PPy composite materials were synthesized by polymerizing pyrrole in pre-formed PCLF scaffolds (Mn 7,000 or 18,000 g mol−1) resulting in interpenetrating networks of PCLF-PPy. Chemical compositions and thermal properties were characterized by ATR-FTIR, XPS, DSC, and TGA. PCLF-PPy materials were synthesized with five different anions (naphthalene-2-sulfonic acid sodium salt (NSA), dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid sodium salt (DBSA), dioctyl sulfosuccinate sodium salt (DOSS), potassium iodide (I), and lysine) to investigate effects on electrical conductivity and to optimize chemical composition for cellular compatibility. PCLF-PPy materials have variable electrical conductivity up to 6 mS cm−1 with bulk compositions ranging from 5 to 13.5 percent polypyrrole. AFM and SEM characterization show microstructures with a root mean squared (RMS) roughness of 1195 nm and nanostructures with RMS roughness of 8 nm. In vitro studies using PC12 cells and DRG show PCLF-PPy materials synthesized with NSA or DBSA support cell attachment, proliferation, neurite extension, and are promising materials for future studies involving electrical stimulation.
doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2010.04.012
PMCID: PMC2893281  PMID: 20483452
Electrically Conductive; Polypyrrole; Nerve; PCLF
7.  Synthesis, Material Properties and Biocompatibility of a Novel Self-Crosslinkable Poly(caprolactone fumarate) as an Injectable Tissue Engineering Scaffold 
Biomacromolecules  2005;6(5):2503-2511.
A novel self-crosslinkable and biodegradable macromer poly(caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF) has been developed for guided bone regeneration. This macromer is a copolymer of fumaryl chloride, which contains double bonds for in-situ crosslinking, and poly(ε-caprolactone) that has a flexible chain to facilitate self-crosslinkability. PCLF was characterized with Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, 1H and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, and gel permeation chromatography (GPC). Porous scaffolds were fabricated with sodium chloride particles as the porogen and a chemical initiation system. The PCLF scaffolds were characterized with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and micro-computed tomography (micro-CT). The cytotoxicity and in vivo biocompatibility of PCLF were also assessed. Our results suggest that this novel copolymer, PCLF, is an injectable, self-crosslinkable, and biocompatible macromer that may be potentially used as a scaffold for tissue engineering applications.
doi:10.1021/bm050206y
PMCID: PMC2530909  PMID: 16153086
8.  Material properties and electrical stimulation regimens through polycaprolactone fumarate-polypyrrole scaffolds as potential conductive nerve conduits 
Acta biomaterialia  2010;7(3):944-953.
Mechanical and electrical properties of polycaprolactone fumarate-polypyrrole (PCLF-PPy) scaffolds were studied under physiological conditions to evaluate their ability to maintain material properties necessary for application as conductive nerve conduits. PC12 cells cultured on PCLF-PPy scaffolds were stimulated with regimens of 10 μA of constant or 20 Hz frequency current passed through the scaffolds for 1 h/day. PC12 cellular morphologies were analyzed by fluorescence microscopy after 48 h. PCLF-PPy scaffolds exhibited excellent mechanical properties at 37°C which would allow suturing and flexibility. The surface resistivity of the scaffolds was 2kΩ and the scaffolds were electrically stable during application of electrical stimulation (ES). In vitro studies showed significant increases in percentage of neurite bearing cells, number of neurites per cell and neurite length in the presence of ES compared to no ES. Additionally, extending neurites were observed to align in the direction of the applied current. This study shows that electrically conductive PCLF-PPy scaffolds possess material properties necessary for application as nerve conduits. Additionally, the capability to significantly enhance and direct neurite extension by passing electrical current through PCLF-PPy scaffolds renders them even more promising as future therapeutic treatments for severe nerve injuries.
doi:10.1016/j.actbio.2010.10.013
PMCID: PMC3031729  PMID: 20965280
Electrical Stimulation; Polypyrrole; Nerve; PCLF; PC12 cells
9.  Comparison of polymer scaffolds in rat spinal cord: A step toward quantitative assessment of combinatorial approaches to spinal cord repair 
Biomaterials  2011;32(32):8077-8086.
The transected rat thoracic (T9/10) spinal cord model is a platform for quantitatively compa0ring biodegradable polymer scaffolds. Schwann cell-loaded scaffolds constructed from poly (lactic co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF), oligo(polyethylene glycol) fumarate (OPF) hydrogel or positively charged OPF (OPF+) hydrogel were implanted into the model. We demonstrated that the mechanical properties (3-point bending and stiffness) of OPF and OPF+ hydrogels closely resembled rat spinal cord. After one month, tissues were harvested and analyzed by morphometry of neurofilament-stained sections at rostral, midlevel, and caudal scaffold. All polymers supported axonal growth. Significantly higher numbers of axons were found in PCLF (P < 0.01) and OPF+ (P < 0.05) groups, compared to that of the PLGA group. OPF+ polymers showed more centrally distributed axonal regeneration within the channels while other polymers (PLGA, PCLF and OPF) tended to show more evenly dispersed axons within the channels. The centralized distribution was associated with significantly more axons regenerating (P < 0.05). Volume of scar and cyst rostral and caudal to the implanted scaffold was measured and compared. There were significantly smaller cyst volumes in PLGA compared to PCLF groups. The model provides a quantitative basis for assessing individual and combined tissue engineering strategies.
doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.07.029
PMCID: PMC3163757  PMID: 21803415
OPF; PLGA; PCLF; axon regeneration; spinal cord injury; Schwann cell
10.  Crosslinking Characteristics and Mechanical Properties of an Injectable Biomaterial Composed of Polypropylene fumarate and Polycaprolactone Copolymer 
In this work, a series of copolymers of polypropylene fumarate-co-polycaprolactone (PPF-co-PCL) were synthesized via a three-step polycondensation reaction of oligomeric polypropylene fumarate (PPF) with polycaprolactone (PCL). The effects of PPF precursor molecular weight, PCL precursor molecular weight, and PCL fraction in the copolymer (PCL feed ratio) on the maximum crosslinking temperature, gelation time, and mechanical properties of the crosslinked copolymers were investigated. The maximum crosslinking temperature fell between 38.2±0.3 and 47.2±0.4 °C, which increased with increasing PCL precursor molecular weight. The gelation time was between 4.2±0.2 and 8.5±0.7 min, and decreased with increasing PCL precursor molecular weight. The compressive moduli ranged from 44±1.8 to 142±7.4 MPa, with enhanced moduli at higher PPF precursor molecular weight and lower PCL feed ratio. The compressive toughness was in the range of 4.1±0.3 and 17.1±1.3 KJ/m3. Our data suggest that the crosslinking and mechanical properties of PPF-co-PCL can be modulated by varying the composition. Therefore the PPF-co-PCL copolymers may offer increased versatility as an injectable, in situ polymerizable biomaterial than the individual polymers of PPF and PCL.
doi:10.1163/092050610X487765
PMCID: PMC3062160  PMID: 20566042
Polypropylene fumarate; polycaprolactone; injectable biomaterials; in situ polymerizable
11.  Photo-crosslinked Alginate Hydrogels Support Enhanced Matrix Accumulation by Nucleus Pulposus Cells In Vivo 
Objective
Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration is a major health concern in the United States. Replacement of the nucleus pulposus (NP) with injectable biomaterials represents a potential treatment strategy for IVD degeneration. The objective of this study was to characterize the extracellular matrix assembly and functional properties of NP cell-encapsulated, photo-crosslinked alginate hydrogels in comparison to ionically crosslinked alginate constructs.
Methods
Methacrylated alginate was synthesized by esterification of hydroxyl groups with methacrylic anhydride. Bovine nucleus pulposus cells were encapsulated in alginate hydrogels by ionic crosslinking using CaCl2 or through photo-crosslinking upon exposure to long-wave UV light in the presence of a photoinitiator. The hydrogels were evaluated in vitro by gross and histological analysis and in vivo using a murine subcutaneous pouch model. In vivo samples were analyzed for gene expression, extracellular matrix localization and accumulation, and equilibrium mechanical properties.
Results
Ionically crosslinked hydrogels exhibited inferior proteoglycan accumulation in vitro and were unable to maintain structural integrity in vivo. In further studies, photo-crosslinked alginate hydrogels were implanted for up to 8 weeks to examine NP tissue formation. Photo-crosslinked hydrogels displayed temporal increases in gene expression and assembly of type II collagen and proteoglycans. Additionally, hydrogels remained intact over the duration of the study and the equilibrium Young’s modulus increased from 1.24 ± 0.09 kPa to 4.31 ± 1.39 kPa, indicating the formation of functional matrix with properties comparable to those of the native NP.
Conclusions
These findings support the use of photo-crosslinked alginate hydrogels as biomaterial scaffolds for NP replacement.
doi:10.1016/j.joca.2009.04.012
PMCID: PMC2753687  PMID: 19427928
Nucleus pulposus; alginate; hydrogel; proteoglycan; type II collagen; Young’s modulus
12.  Development of Photocrosslinkable Urethane-Doped Polyester Elastomers for Soft Tissue Engineering 
Finding an ideal biomaterial with the proper mechanical properties and biocompatibility has been of intense focus in the field of soft tissue engineering. This paper reports on the synthesis and characterization of a novel crosslinked urethane-doped polyester elastomer (CUPOMC), which was synthesized by reacting a previously developed photocrosslinkable poly (octamethylene maleate citrate) (POMC) prepolymers (pre-POMC) with 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) followed by thermo- or photo-crosslinking polymerization. The mechanical properties of the CUPOMCs can be tuned by controlling the molar ratios of pre-POMC monomers, and the ratio between the prepolymer and HDI. CUPOMCs can be crosslinked into a 3D network through polycondensation or free radical polymerization reactions. The tensile strength and elongation at break of CUPOMC synthesized under the known conditions range from 0.73±0.12MPa to 10.91±0.64MPa and from 72.91±9.09% to 300.41±21.99% respectively. Preliminary biocompatibility tests demonstrated that CUPOMCs support cell adhesion and proliferation. Unlike the pre-polymers of other crosslinked elastomers, CUPOMC pre-polymers possess great processability demonstrated by scaffold fabrication via a thermally induced phase separation method. The dual crosslinking methods for CUPOMC pre-polymers should enhance the versatile processability of the CUPOMC used in various conditions. Development of CUPOMC should expand the choices of available biodegradable elastomers for various biomedical applications such as soft tissue engineering.
doi:10.4018/ijbre.2011010102
PMCID: PMC3615254  PMID: 23565318
Biodegradable Elastomer; Polyester; Soft Tissue Engineering; Thermo-Crosslinking; UV-Crosslinking
13.  Osteoblast Growth and Bone Healing Response to Three Dimensional Poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate) Scaffolds 
Poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF) scaffold formulations were assessed as a delivery system of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein (rhBMP-2) for bone tissue engineering. The formulations included PCLF with combinations of poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) and hydroxyapatite (HA). The assessments included in vitro and in vivo assays. In vitro assays validated cell attachment using a pre-osteoblast cell line (MC3T3-E1). Additionally, in vitro release profiles of rhBMP-2 from PCLF scaffolds were determined up to 21 days. Data suggested PCLF incorporated with PVA and HA accelerated rhBMP-2 release and the released protein was bioactive. For the in vivo study, a critical sized defect (CSD) model in a rabbit calvaria was used to test PCLF scaffolds. At 6 weeks post-implantation, significantly more bone formation was measured in PCLF scaffolds containing rhBMP-2 than in scaffolds without rhBMP-2. In conclusion, we demonstrated PCLF delivered biologically active rhBMP-2, promoted bone healing in a CSD and has potential as a bone tissue engineering scaffold.
doi:10.1002/term.442
PMCID: PMC3213277  PMID: 21744511
poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate); three-dimensional scaffold; rabbit calvarial critical sized defect; rhBMP-2; bone tissue engineering
14.  Three-Dimensional Porous Biodegradable Polymeric Scaffolds Fabricated with Biodegradable Hydrogel Porogens 
We have developed a new fabrication technique to create three-dimensional (3D) porous poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF) scaffolds using hydrogel microparticle porogens, as an alternative to overcome certain limitations of traditional scaffold fabrication techniques such as a salt leaching method. Both natural hydrogel, gelatin, and synthetic hydrogel, poly(ethylene glycol) sebacic acid diacrylate, were used as porogens to fabricate 3D porous PCLF scaffolds. Hydrogel microparticles were prepared by a single emulsion technique with the particle size in the range of 100–500 μm after equilibrium in water. The pore size distribution, porosity, pore interconnectivity, and spatial pore heterogeneity of the 3D PCLF scaffolds were assessed using micro-computed tomography and imaging analysis. Scaffolds fabricated with the hydrogel porogens had higher porosity and pore interconnectivity as well as more homogeneous spatial pore distribution, compared to the scaffolds made from the salt leaching process. Compressive moduli of the scaffolds were also measured and showed that lower porosity yielded greater modulus of the scaffolds. Overall, the new fabrication technology using hydrogel porogens may be beneficial for certain tissue engineering applications.
doi:10.1089/ten.tec.2008.0642
PMCID: PMC2819712  PMID: 19216632
15.  Post-Polymerization Crosslinked Polyurethane Shape-Memory Polymers 
Journal of applied polymer science  2011;121(1):144-153.
Novel urethane shape-memory polymers (SMPs) of significant industrial relevance have been synthesized and characterized. Chemically crosslinked SMPs have traditionally been made in a one-step polymerization of monomers and crosslinking agents. However, these new post-polymerization crosslinked SMPs can be processed into complex shapes by thermoplastic manufacturing methods and later crosslinked by heat exposure or by electron beam irradiation. Several series of linear, olefinic urethane polymers were made from 2-butene-1,4-diol, other saturated diols, and various aliphatic diisocyanates. These thermoplastics were melt-processed into desired geometries and thermally crosslinked at 200°C or radiation crosslinked at 50 kGy. The SMPs were characterized by solvent swelling and extraction, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), tensile testing, and qualitative shape-recovery analysis. Swelling and DMA results provided concrete evidence of chemical crosslinking, and further characterization revealed that the urethanes had outstanding mechanical properties. Key properties include tailorable transitions between 25 and 80°C, tailorable rubbery moduli between 0.2 and 4.2 MPa, recoverable strains approaching 100%, failure strains of over 500% at Tg, and qualitative shape-recovery times of less than 12 seconds at body temperature (37°C). Because of its outstanding thermo-mechanical properties, one polyurethane was selected for implementation in the design of a complex medical device. These post-polymerization crosslinked urethane SMPs are an industrially relevant class of highly processable shape-memory materials.
doi:10.1002/app.33428
PMCID: PMC3092441  PMID: 21572577
16.  Degradable poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate)-co-polycaprolactone Hydrogels for Tissue Engineering Scaffolds 
Biomacromolecules  2008;9(12):3370-3377.
Biodegradable poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) hydrogels for engineered tissue constructs were developed using atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP), a degradable crosslinker and a macroinitiator. Hydrogels are appropriate materials for tissue engineering scaffolds due to their tissue-like mechanical compliance and mass transfer properties. However, many hydrogels that have seen wide application in medicine are not biodegradable or cannot be easily cleared from the body. Poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (pHEMA) was selected for the scaffold material due to its reasonable mechanical strength, elasticity, long history of successful use in medicine and because it can be easily fabricated into numerous configurations. pHEMA was studied at various molecular weights between 2 kDa and 50 kDa. The molecular weight range suitable for renal clearance was an important factor in the experimental design. The fabricated hydrogels contain oligomeric blocks of polycaprolactone (PCL), a hydrolytically and enzymatically degradable polymer, as a crosslinking agent. In addition a degradable macroinitiator also containing oligomeric PCL was used to initiate the ATRP. The chain length, crosslink density, and polymerization solvent were found to greatly affect the mechanical properties of the pHEMA hydrogels. Degradation of the pHEMA hydrogels was characterized using 0.007 M NaOH, lipase solutions and phosphate buffered saline. Mass loss, swelling ratio and tensile modulus were evaluated. Degradation products from the sodium hydroxide were measured using gel permeation chromatography (GPC) to verify the polymer lengths and polydispersity. Erosion was only observed in the sodium hydroxide and lipase solutions. However, swelling ratio and tensile modulus indicate bulk degradation in all PCL containing samples. Degradable hydrogels in enzymatic solutions showed 30% mass loss in 16 weeks. Initial cell toxicity studies indicate no adverse cellular response to the hydrogels or their degradation products. These hydrogels have appropriate mechanical properties, a tunable degradation rate, and are composed of materials currently in FDA approved devices. Thus the degradable pHEMA developed in this study has considerable potential as a scaffold for tissue engineering in cardiac and other applications.
doi:10.1021/bm800686h
PMCID: PMC2650022  PMID: 19061434
PolyHEMA; Polycaprolactone; ATRP; Cardiac Tissue Engineering; Degradation
17.  Low density biodegradable shape memory polyurethane foams for embolic biomedical applications 
Acta biomaterialia  2013;10(1):67-76.
Low density shape memory polymer foams hold significant interest in the biomaterials community for their potential use in minimally invasive embolic biomedical applications. The unique shape memory behavior of these foams allows them to be compressed to a miniaturized form, which can be delivered to an anatomical site via a transcatheter process, and thereafter actuated to embolize the desired area. Previous work in this field has described the use of a highly covalently crosslinked polymer structure for maintaining excellent mechanical and shape memory properties at the application-specific ultra low densities. This work is aimed at further expanding the utility of these biomaterials, as implantable low density shape memory polymer foams, by introducing controlled biodegradability. A highly covalently crosslinked network structure was maintained by use of low molecular weight, symmetrical and polyfunctional hydroxyl monomers such as Polycaprolactone triol (PCL-t, Mn 900 g), N,N,N0,N0-Tetrakis (hydroxypropyl) ethylenediamine (HPED), and Tris (2-hydroxyethyl) amine (TEA). Control over the degradation rate of the materials was achieved by changing the concentration of the degradable PCL-t monomer, and by varying the material hydrophobicity. These porous SMP materials exhibit a uniform cell morphology and excellent shape recovery, along with controllable actuation temperature and degradation rate. We believe that they form a new class of low density biodegradable SMP scaffolds that can potentially be used as “smart” non-permanent implants in multiple minimally invasive biomedical applications.
doi:10.1016/j.actbio.2013.09.027
PMCID: PMC4075478  PMID: 24090987
Shape Memory Polyurethane; Polycaprolactone triol; low density foams; degradation rate; FTIR
18.  Investigation of Mg2+- and temperature-dependent folding of the hairpin ribozyme by photo-crosslinking: effects of photo-crosslinker tether length and chemistry 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(3):1058-1068.
We have used photo-crosslinking to investigate the structure and dynamics of four-way junction hairpin ribozyme constructs. Four phenylazide photo-crosslinkers were coupled to 2′-NH2-modified U+2 in the substrate and irradiated at different Mg2+ concentrations and temperatures. Consistent with the role of divalent metal ions in hairpin ribozyme folding, we observed more interdomain crosslinks in the presence of Mg2+ than in its absence. In general, we observed intradomain crosslinks to nucleotides 2–11 and interdomain crosslinks to the U1A binding loop. Crosslinks to A26 and G36 in domain B were also observed when crosslinking was carried out at −78°C. In contrast to crosslinking results at higher temperatures (0, 25 and 37°C), similar crosslinks were obtained in the presence and absence of Mg2+ at −78°C, suggesting Mg2+ stabilizes a low-energy hairpin ribozyme conformation. We also evaluated the effects of photo-crosslinker structure and mechanism on crosslinks. First, most crosslinks were to unpaired nucleotides. Second, shorter and longer photo-crosslinkers formed crosslinks to intradomain locations nearer to and farther from photo-crosslinker modification, respectively. Finally, fluorine substitutions on the phenylazide ring did not change the locations of crosslinks, but rather decreased crosslinking efficiency. These findings have implications for the use of phenylazide photo-crosslinkers in structural studies of RNA.
doi:10.1093/nar/gki237
PMCID: PMC549404  PMID: 15722480
19.  Fabrication and Characterization of Tough Elastomeric Fibrous Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering Applications 
Development of biodegradable tough elastomeric scaffolds are important for engineering tissues such as myocardium and heart valves that experience dynamic environments in vivo. Biomaterial scaffolds should ideally provide appropriate physical, chemical and mechanical cues to the seeded cells to closely mimic the native ECM. Collagen fibers form an important component of native myocardium as well as heart valve leaflets and provide necessary tensile properties to these tissues. Amongst various polymers, collagen mimicking biodegradable elastomer, Poly-(glycerol-sebacate) (PGS) has shown great promise in microfabricated scaffolds for cardiac tissue engineering. However, its use is limited by its solubility and the ability to cast nano-/microfibrous structures. For its superior mechanical properties, thermal or UV crosslinking of the pre-polymer is required under high temperatures and vacuum limiting fabrication of fibers. In this work, electrospun PGS fibers were fabricated by simply blending it with biodegradable polycaprolactone (PCL) polymer without any post-processing. It was hypothesized that microfibrous PGS-PCL scaffolds would provide appropriate physical (fibrous structure) and chemical (balanced hydrophilicity and hydrophobicity) to the cells in addition to the mechanical properties.
doi:10.1109/IEMBS.2010.5627486
PMCID: PMC3098812  PMID: 21096824
20.  Poly(ε-Caprolactone)-Based Copolymers Bearing Pendant Cyclic Ketals and Reactive Acrylates for the Fabrication of Photocrosslinked Elastomers 
Acta biomaterialia  2013;9(9):8232-8244.
Block copolymers of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) and poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) with chemically addressable functional groups were synthesized and characterized. Ring opening polymerization of ε-caprolactone (CL) and 1,4,8-trioxaspiro-[4,6]-9-undecanone (TSU) using α-methoxy, ω-hydroxyl poly(ethylene glycol) (mPEG) as the initiator afforded a copolymer with cyclic ketals being randomly distributed in the hydrophobic PCL block. At an initiator/catalyst molar ratio of 10/1 and a TSU/CL weight ratio of 1/4, a ketal-carrying copolymer (ECT2-CK) with Mn of 52 kDa and a ketal content of 15 mol% was obtained. Quantitative side chain deacetalization revealed the reactive ketones without noticeable polymer degradation. In our study, 10 mol% of cyclic ketals were deprotected and the ketone-containing copolymer was designated as ECT2-CO. Reaction of ECT2-CO with 2-(2-(aminooxy)acetoxy)-ethyl acrylate gave rise to an acrylated product (ECT2-AC) containing an estimated 3–5 acrylate groups per chain. UV-initiated radical polymerization of ECT2-AC in dichloromethane resulted in a crosslinked network (xECT2-AC). Thermal and morphological analyses employing Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) operated in PeakForce Tapping mode revealed the semicrystalline nature of the network, containing stiff crystalline lamellae dispersed in a softer amorphous interstitial. Macroscopic and nanoscale mechanical characterizations showed that ECT2-CK exhibited a significantly lower modulus than PCL of a similar molecular weight. While ECT2-CK undergoes a plastic deformation with a distinct yield point and a cold drawing region, xECT2-AC exhibited a compliant, elastomeric deformation with a Young’s modulus of 0.5 ± 0.1 MPa at 37 °C. When properly processed, the crosslinked network exhibited shape memory behaviors, with shape fixity and shape recovery values close to 1 and a shape recovery time of less than 4 s at 37 °C. In vitro studies showed that xECT2-AC films did not induce any cytotoxic effects to the cultured mesenchymal stem cells. The crosslinkable polyester copolymers can be potentially used as tissue engineering scaffolds and minimally invasive medical devices.
doi:10.1016/j.actbio.2013.06.005
PMCID: PMC3732508  PMID: 23770222
Poly(ε-caprolactone); Poly(ethylene glycol); Copolymers; Functional Groups; Photocrosslinking; Elastomeric; Shape Memory; Tissue Engineering
21.  Bone Tissue-Engineering Material Poly(propylene fumarate): Correlation between Molecular Weight, Chain Dimensions, and Physical Properties 
Biomacromolecules  2006;7(6):1976-1982.
Poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF) is an important biodegradable and crosslinkable polymer designed for bone tissue-engineering applications. For the first time we report the extensive characterization of this biomaterial including molecular weight dependences of physical properties such as glass transition temperature Tg, thermal degradation temperature Td, density ρ melt viscosity η0, hydrodynamic radius RH, and intrinsic viscosity [η]. The temperature dependence of η0 changes progressively with molecular weight, while it can be unified when the temperature is normalized to Tg. The plateau modulus GN0 and entanglement molecular weight Me have been obtained from the rheological master curves. A variety of chain microstructure parameters such as the Mark-Houwink-Sakurada constants K and α, characteristic ratio C∞, unperturbed chain dimension r02/M, packing length p, Kuhn length b, and tube diameter a have been deduced. Further correlation between the microstructure and macroscopic physical properties has been discussed in light of recent progress in polymer dynamics to supply a better understanding about this unsaturated polyester to advance its biomedical uses. The molecular weight dependence of Tg for six polymer species including PPF has been summarized to support that Me is irrelevant for the finite length effect on glass transition, while surprisingly these polymers can be divided into two groups when their normalized Tg is plotted simply against Mw to indicate the deciding roles of inherent chain properties such as chain fragility, intermolecular cooperativity, and chain end mobility.
doi:10.1021/bm060096a
PMCID: PMC2530912  PMID: 16768422
22.  Synthesis and characterization of a biodegradable elastomer featuring a dual crosslinking mechanism 
Soft matter  2010;6(11):2449-2461.
The need for advanced materials in emerging technologies such as tissue engineering has prompted increased research to produce novel biodegradable polymers elastic in nature and mechanically compliant with the host tissue. We have developed a soft biodegradable elastomeric platform biomaterial created from citric acid, maleic anhydride, and 1,8-octanediol, poly(octamethylene maleate (anhydride) citrate) (POMaC), which is able to closely mimic the mechanical properties of a wide range of soft biological tissues. POMaC features a dual crosslinking mechanism, which allows for the option of the crosslinking POMaC using UV irradiation and/or polycondensation to fit the needs of the intended application. The material properties, degradation profiles, and functionalities of POMaC thermoset networks can all be tuned through the monomer ratios and the dual crosslinking mechanism. POMaC polymers displayed an initial modulus between 0.03 and 1.54 MPa, and elongation at break between 48% and 534% strain. In vitro and in vivo evaluation using cell culture and subcutaneous implantation, respectively, confirmed cell and tissue biocompatibility. POMaC biodegradable polymers can also be combined with MEMS technology to fabricate soft and elastic 3D microchanneled scaffolds for tissue engineering applications. The introduction of POMaC will expand the choices of available biodegradable polymeric elastomers. The dual crosslinking mechanism for biodegradable elastomer design should contribute to biomaterials science.
doi:10.1039/C001605E
PMCID: PMC3233194  PMID: 22162975
23.  Laminin Functionalized Biomimetic Nanofibers For Nerve Tissue Engineering 
Large-gap peripheral nerve injuries present a significant challenge for nerve regeneration due to lack of suitable grafts, insufficient cell penetration, and repair. Biomimetic nanofibrous scaffolds, functionalized on the surface with extracellular matrix proteins, can lead to novel therapies for repair and regeneration of damaged peripheral nerves. Here, nanofibrous scaffolds electrospun from blends of poly(caprolactone) (PCL) and chitosan were fabricated. Taking advantage of the amine groups on the chitosan, the surface of the scaffolds were functionalized with laminin by carbodiimide based crosslinking. Crosslinking allowed laminin to be attached to the surfaces of the PCL-chitosan nanofibers at relatively high concentrations that were not possible using conventional adsorption methods. The nanofibrous meshes were tested for wettability, mechanical properties and cell attachment and proliferation. Blending of chitosan with PCL provided more favorable surfaces for attachment of Schwann cells due to the reduction of the contact angle in comparison to neat PCL. Proliferation rates of Schwann cells grown on PCL-chitosan scaffolds with crosslinked laminin were significantly higher than the rates for PCL-chitosan nanofibrous matrices with adsorbed laminin. PCL-chitosan scaffolds with modified surfaces via crosslinking of laminin could potentially serves as versatile substrates with excellent mechanical and surface properties for in vivo cell delivery for nerve tissue engineering applications.
doi:10.1166/jbt.2013.1110
PMCID: PMC3785102  PMID: 24083073
Electrospun Nanofibers; Laminin; Nerve Tissue Engineering; Chitosan
24.  STRUCTURAL MECHANISM FOR ALTERATION OF COLLAGEN GEL MECHANICS BY GLUTARALDEHYDE CROSSLINKING 
Connective tissue research  2012;53(4):10.3109/03008207.2011.640760.
Soft collagenous tissues that are loaded in vivo undergo crosslinking during aging and wound healing. Bio-prosthetic tissues implanted in vivo are also commonly crosslinked with glutaraldehyde. While crosslinking changes the mechanical properties of the tissue, the nature of the mechanical changes and the underlying microstructural mechanism is poorly understood. In this study, a combined mechanical, biochemical and simulation approach was employed to identify the microstructural mechanism by which crosslinking alters mechanical properties. The model collagenous tissue used was an anisotropic cell-compacted collagen gel, and the model crosslinking agent was monomeric glutaraldehyde. The collagen gels were incrementally crosslinked by either increasing the glutaraldehyde concentration or by increasing the crosslinking time. In biaxial loading experiments, increased crosslinking produced: (1) decreased strain response to a small equibiaxial preload, with little change in response to subsequent loading, and (2) decreased coupling between the fiber and cross-fiber direction. The mechanical trend was found to be better described by the lysine consumption data than by the shrinkage temperature. The biaxial loading of incrementally-crosslinked collagen gels was simulated computationally with a previously published network model. Crosslinking was represented by increased fibril stiffness or by increased resistance to fibril rotation. Only the latter produced mechanical trends similar to that observed experimentally. Representing crosslinking as increased fibril stiffness did not reproduce the decreased coupling between the fiber and cross-fiber directions. The study concludes that the mechanical changes in crosslinked collagen gels are caused by the microstructural mechanism of increased resistance to fibril rotation.
doi:10.3109/03008207.2011.640760
PMCID: PMC3825191  PMID: 22775003
collagen gel; crosslink; glutaraldehyde; biaxial mechanics
25.  Effect of Photoinitiator System and Water Content on Dynamic Mechanical Properties of a Light-cured bisGMA/HEMA Dental Resin 
The selection of an appropriate photoinitiator system is critical for efficient polymerization of dental resins with satisfactory mechanical and physical properties. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the influence of adding an iodonium salt to two-component photoinitiator systems. Four photoinitiator systems were included in a model bisGMA/HEMA resin and used to prepare samples at different water contents; the dynamic mechanical properties and the final degree of conversion of the samples were then characterized. Addition of the iodonium salt to the two-component photoinitiator systems increased the final degree of conversion, glass transition temperature, rubbery modulus, and crosslink density. The photoinitiator system containing ethyl-4-(dimethylamino) benzoate as a co-initiator and the iodonium salt exhibited the highest rubbery modulus. The enhanced properties in the presence of the iodonium salt can be attributed to the production of an active phenyl radical with regeneration of the original camphorquinone, which may increase the compatibility between monomers and initiators, especially in the presence of water. The results support the hypothesis that a photoinitiator system containing an iodonium salt can increase both mechanical properties and final conversion of model resin polymerized in the presence of water.
doi:10.1002/jbm.a.32617
PMCID: PMC2860647  PMID: 19827107
photoinitiator; dynamic mechanical properties; dentin adhesive; degree of conversion; iodonium salt

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