PLGA (poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid)-PEG (polyethylene glycol)-PLGA synthesis conditions have an impact on the physicochemical features of the copolymer and its usefulness as biomaterial. This study reports on an analysis of the composition and structural properties of PLGA-PEG-PLGA copolymers applying a variety of analytical techniques. Viscoelastic properties and particularly the temperature-responsive behavior of PLGA-PEG-PLGA showed a marked dependence on copolymer structural features. Physicochemical and biological properties, such as bioadhesion, biocompatibility and cell viability, of the raw copolymers and their gels were also evaluated. The most promising copolymer was chosen to formulate the osteoinductive protein bone morphogenetic protein-2 (125I-BMP-2), and the ability of its gels to sustain the release both in vitro and in vivo was monitored in situ using a gamma counter. In vitro diffusion studies were carried out using a bioinspired set-up that included a biorelevant receptor medium. In vivo release tests after implantation in a critical-size calvarial defect model showed an important burst, but then the release fitted well to the square-root kinetics. Importantly, the release rate constants recorded in vitro and in vivo matched each other suggesting close in vitro-in vivo correlation. Overall, the information gathered opens new perspectives in the biomedical application of these temperature-sensitive materials.
Keywords: BMP-2; PLGA-PEG-PLGA copolymer; gel depots; in vivo release rate; sol-gel transition temperature.
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