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J Mech Behav Biomed Mater. 2013 Dec;28:1-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2013.07.014. Epub 2013 Jul 23.

The influence of coupling agents on mechanical property retention and long-term cytocompatibility of phosphate glass fibre reinforced PLA composites.

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  • 1Division of Materials, Mechanics and Structures, Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, United Kingdom. Electronic address:


Completely resorbable composites are an attractive alternative for metallic bone-fracture fixation devices. However, failure of their interfacial integrity within aqueous environments, which can lead to a rapid loss of overall mechanical properties, has been reported in the literature. In this study coupling agents were investigated for phosphate glass fibre reinforced poly(lactic acid) composites. Three coupling agents with varying wettability were employed to improve initial mechanical properties and their retention in vitro via improvement of the interfacial bond between polymer matrix and fibres. Coupling agents were grafted onto the glass fibres by dip-coating in coupling agent solution at optimised concentrations. Three-aminopropyltriethoxy silane and sorbitol ended PLA oligomer treatments improved the initial flexural properties (27% strength with APS and 17% modulus via SPLA treatment) of the composites and 3-aminopropyltriethoxy silane and hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) treatments also decreased the loss of flexural strength and modulus during degradation. HDI treated samples retained 57.2% and 64.7% of their initial strength and modulus, respectively compared to control where only 34% of initial strength and 52% of initial modulus was retained after 28 days of degradation in PBS solution. Initial improvements in flexural properties were associated with improved shear bond strength at the interface due to covalent bonding between the glass fibres and polymer matrix provided by the coupling agents. Delay in mechanical property loss with degradation was suggested to be due to the hydrophobicity at the interface, which could have hindered the interfacial integrity loss and consequently loss of mechanical integrity of the composites. All coupling agent treated and control composites were tested for cytocompatibility using a primary human osteoblast cell line. A comparable response to the control, in terms of cell adhesion, proliferation and differentiation was observed supporting the use of these agents within implantable devices.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Composite; Coupling agents; Cytocompatibility; Mechanical property retention; Phosphate glass fibre; Polylactic acid

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