Controlled Degradation of Polyester-Ethers Revealed by Mass Spectrometry Techniques


The use of degradable biomedical materials in e.g. tissue engineering and controlled drug delivery has changed medical science during recent decades. The key question is to adapt the material with respect to mechanical properties, surface characteristics, and degradation profile to suit its intended application. Products formed during the degradation of bioresorbable materials are generally considered non-toxic and they are excreted from the human body. However, large amounts of specific degradation products such as hydroxyacids and oligomers may induce a pH decrease and a subsequent inflammatory response at the implantation site.


In this study, macromolecular design and a combination of cross-linking and adjusted hydrophilicity are utilized as tools to control and tailor the degradation rate and the subsequent release of degradation products from polyester-ethers. A series of different homo- and copolymers of e-caprolactone (CL) and 1,5-dioxepan-2-one (DXO) were synthesized and their hydrolytic degradation was monitored in aqueous media at 37 °C for up to 546 days. The low and medium molar mass degradation products released during hydrolysis were monitored by various mass spectrometry techniques. The materials studied included linear DXO/CL triblock and multiblock copolymers, PCL and PDXO linear homopolymers, and cross-linked homo- and random copolymers of CL/DXO where 2,2’-bis-(?-caprolactone-4-yl) propane (BCP) was used as a cross-linking agent.


The results show that macromolecular engineering and controlled hydrophilicity of cross-linked networks are useful tools for customizing the release rate of acidic degradation products. Thereby, the formation of local acidic environments is prevented and the risk of inflammatory responses in the body is reduced.

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