Versatility of biodegradable biopolymers: degradability and an in vivo application

J Biotechnol. 2001 Mar 30;86(2):135-50. doi: 10.1016/s0168-1656(00)00409-0.


Biodegradable materials have various important applications in the biomedical field. There are basically two groups of polyesters which have significant importance in this field. These are polylactides and polyhydroxybutyrates. Both groups degrade via hydrolysis with the rates of degradation depending on medium properties such as pH, temperature, solvent and presence of biocatalysts, as well as on chemical compositions. In order for these biomaterials to be suitable for use in load bearing applications without deformation or warping their strengths and their capability to maintain their form must be improved. To insure dimensional stability during degradation and to match modulus and strength to that of bone, introduction of a reinforcing structure for those applications to plate fixation through the creation of an interpenetrating network might be a feasible approach. In this study, poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA), was the major structural element to be strengthened by a three-dimensional network or "scaffold" of another biodegradable polymer, poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF). PPF would be crosslinked with a biocompatible vinyl monomer, vinylpyrrolidone (VP). Three different approaches were tested to create dimensionally stable bone plates. First, via in situ crosslinking of PPF in the presence of PLGA. Secondly, by blending of precrosslinked PPF with PLGA. Finally, by simultaneous crosslinking and molding of the PLGA, PPF and VP. These were compared against extruded or compression molded PLGA controls. Results showed that compression molding at room temperature followed by crosslinking under pressure at elevated temperature and subsequently by gamma-irradiation appeared to yield the most favorable product as judged by swelling, hardness and flexural strength data. The composition of the implant material, PLGA(3):PPF(1):VP(0.7), appeared to be suitable and formed the compositional and procedural basis for in vivo biocompatibility studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Absorbable Implants*
  • Absorption
  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Biopolymers
  • Bone Plates
  • Fumarates*
  • Hardness Tests
  • Lactic Acid*
  • Male
  • Polyglycolic Acid*
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer
  • Polymers*
  • Polypropylenes*
  • Pyrrolidinones*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Biopolymers
  • Fumarates
  • Polymers
  • Polypropylenes
  • Pyrrolidinones
  • poly(propylene fumarate)
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer
  • Polyglycolic Acid
  • Lactic Acid
  • N-vinyl-2-pyrrolidinone