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Late degradation simulation of poly(I-Lactide)

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High molecular weight as-polymerized poly(I-lactide) (PLLA) has been successfully used for fracture fixation and orbital floor reconstruction in animals and humans. As this PLLA takes more than 3 years to resorb, a method was developed to obtain insight into the final cellular degradation process of the PLLA by means of short-lasting animal experiments. Pre-degraded PLLA particles (< 500 μm) were implanted subcutaneously in the backs of 14 rats. Two different methods of sterilization (regular steamsterilization and gamma-irradiation) and implantation vehicles (gelatin capsules and hydroxypropyl-methylcellulose (HPMC)) were used to examine the biological behaviour of the pre-degraded PLLA. Two rats were sacrificed at 48 h, 3 days and 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 weeks following the operation. The tissues were examined using light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. Gel permeation chromatography (GPC) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) were used to characterize the PLLA material. GPC measurements of the pre-degraded PLLA revealed a M n of 5500. Upon hydrolysation the crystallinity of the PLLA increased by about 60% and the heat of fusion was 86 J g-1. Deterioration of the mechanical and physical properties due to the two sterilization methods was negligible. No differences in cellular response were observed between the densely packed PLLA particles (gelatin capsules) and the particles scattered over the tissue (HPMC-gel). The present study enabled an early observation of the late degradation phase of PLLA.

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Rozema, F.R., Bergsma, J.E., Bos, R.R.M. et al. Late degradation simulation of poly(I-Lactide). J Mater Sci: Mater Med 5, 575–581 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00120333

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