The degradation and the tissue response evoked by poly(1,3-trimethylene carbonate) [poly(TMC)] and copolymers of TMC with either 52 mol % D,L-lactide (DLLA) or 89 mol % epsilon-caprolactone (CL) were evaluated in vivo by subcutaneous implantation of polymer films in rats for periods up to one year. Poly(TMC) specimens were extensively degraded after 3 weeks and, as confirmed by histology, totally resorbed in less than a year. A fast linear decrease in thickness and mass without a change in molecular weight was observed. Initially an acute sterile inflammatory tissue reaction, caused by the implantation procedure, was observed, followed by a mild macrophage-mediated foreign body reaction that lasted during the resorption period of the polymer. It is concluded that in vivo, poly(TMC) is degraded via surface erosion involving cellular-mediated processes. The degradation of the copolymers was slower than that of poly(TMC), taking place via autocatalyzed bulk hydrolysis, preferentially of ester bonds. The TMC-DLLA copolymer degraded 20 times faster than the TMC-CL one. In both cases, the tissue reaction upon implantation resembled a sterile inflammatory reaction followed by a foreign body reaction that led to the polymer encapsulation. Significant mass loss was only observed for the TMC-DLLA copolymer, which underwent 96% mass loss in 1 year. When extensive mass loss started, a mild-to-moderate secondary foreign body reaction, related to clearance of the polymer fragments, was triggered. The results presented in this study demonstrate that poly(TMC) and both TMC copolymers are biodegradable and biocompatible materials, making these polymers attractive for the preparation of short- and long-term degradable devices for soft tissue engineering.
Copyright 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res 67A: 1044-1054, 2003