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Degradation process of L-lactide/glycolide/trimethylene carbonate terpolymer in cell culture environment

Arkadiusz Orchel 1Katarzyna Jelonek 2Anna Kulczycka 1Anna Smola 2Piotr Dobrzynski 4Joanna Orchel 3Janusz Kasperczyk 2

1. Department of Biopharmacy, Medical University of Silesia, Jedności 8, Sosnowiec 41-200, Poland
2. Centre of Polymer and Carbon Materials, Polish Academy of Sciences, M. Curie Skłodowskiej 34, Zabrze 41-819, Poland
3. Department of Molecular Biology, Medical University of Silesia, Jedności 8, Sosnowiec 41-200, Poland
4. Jan Dlugosz Academy, Al. Armii Krajowej 13/15, Częstochowa 42-201, Poland


Degradable polymeric carriers for controlled release of drugs and other bioactive substances (growth factors, hormones) are of growing importance in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering [1]. Terpolymers containing glycolidyl, lactidyl and carbonate units have a great potential for applications in these fields, as their properties (degradation rate, mechanical features) can be tailored by changes in the terpolymer composition as well as changes in the chain microstructure [2]. Kinetics of polymer degradation is usually studied in vitro by incubation of polymeric specimens in a buffered medium (e. g. phosphate buffered saline - PBS). However, in cell culture environment some factors augmenting polymer degradation/erosion (enzymes, free radicals) can be present. They can derive from cultured cells or bovine serum – a typical component of the cell culture medium. The aim of the study was to investigate the degradation process of a novel terpolymer of L-lactide, glycolide and trimethylene carbonate, incubated in cell culture with human fibroblasts (11Lu cell line). Polymeric specimens were incubated for 30 and 90 days. Characteristics of the terpolymer were studied by means of 1H and 13C NMR spectroscopy, gel chromatography and differential scanning calorimetry. During the first 30 days, a considerable decrease in molecular weight (Mn) was observed without any change in the weight of polymeric specimens. After 90 days, Mn continued to decrease and some loss of the specimens weight was noticed. The content of glycolidyl, lactidyl and TMC units remained relatively stable through the whole degradation period. In conclusion, degradation of the studied terpolymer proceeded regularly, therefore it can be appropriate for various medical applications.

This study was financially supported by a Grant from Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, no. NN 405 682 340 and  Polish National  Science  Centre,  grants  no.  DEC-2011/01/B/ST5/06296.


[1] Biondi M., Ungaro F., Quaglia F., Netti P. A., Adv. Drug Deliv. Rev., 60, 229 (2008)

[2] Orchel A., Jelonek K., Kasperczyk J., Dobrzynski P., Marcinkowski A., Pamula E., Orchel J., Bielecki I., Kulczycka A., Biomed. Res. Int., 2013 (2013)


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Submitted: 2014-03-14 11:46
Revised:   2014-05-02 12:31