Evaluation of Physical and Mechanical Properties of Porous Poly (Ethylene Glycol)-co-(L-Lactic Acid) Hydrogels during Degradation

>Porous hydrogels of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) have been shown to facilitate vascularized tissue formation. However, PEG hydrogels exhibit limited degradation under physiological conditions which hinders their ultimate applicability for tissue engineering therapies. Introduction of poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) chains into the PEG backbone results in copolymers that exhibit degradation via hydrolysis that can be controlled, in part, by the copolymer conditions. In this study, porous, PEG-PLLA hydrogels were generated by solvent casting/particulate leaching and photopolymerization. The influence of polymer conditions on hydrogel architecture, degradation and mechanical properties was investigated. Autofluorescence exhibited by the hydrogels allowed for three-dimensional, non-destructive monitoring of hydrogel structure under fully swelled conditions. The initial pore size depended on particulate size but not polymer concentration, while degradation time was dependent on polymer concentration. Compressive modulus was a function of polymer concentration and decreased as the hydrogels degraded. Interestingly, pore size did not vary during degradation contrary to what has been observed in other polymer systems. These results provide a technique for generating porous, degradable PEG-PLLA hydrogels and insight into how the degradation, structure, and mechanical properties depend on synthesis conditions.

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Source URL:http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0060728