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Acta Biomater. 2013 Jan;9(1):4569-78. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2012.08.005. Epub 2012 Aug 16.

Effects of protein molecular weight on the intrinsic material properties and release kinetics of wet spun polymeric microfiber delivery systems.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology, Center for Biomedical Engineering, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.


Wet spun microfibers have great potential for the design of multifunctional controlled release scaffolds. Understanding aspects of drug delivery and mechanical strength, specific to protein molecular weight, may aid in the optimization and development of wet spun fiber platforms. This study investigated the intrinsic material properties and release kinetics of poly(l-lactic acid) (PLLA) and poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) wet spun microfibers encapsulating proteins with varying molecular weights. A cryogenic emulsion technique developed in our laboratory was used to encapsulate insulin (5.8 kDa), lysozyme (14.3 kDa) and bovine serum albumin (BSA, 66.0 kDa) within wet spun microfibers (~100 μm). Protein loading was found to significantly influence mechanical strength and drug release kinetics of PLGA and PLLA microfibers in a molecular-weight-dependent manner. BSA encapsulation resulted in the most significant decrease in strength and ductility for both PLGA and PLLA microfibers. Interestingly, BSA-loaded PLGA microfibers had a twofold increase (8±2 MPa to 16±1 MPa) in tensile strength and a fourfold increase (3±1% to 12±6%) in elongation until failure in comparison to PLLA microfibers. PLGA and PLLA microfibers exhibited prolonged protein release up to 63 days in vitro. Further analysis with the Korsmeyer-Peppas kinetic model determined that the mechanism of protein release was dependent on Fickian diffusion. These results emphasize the critical role protein molecular weight has on the properties of wet spun filaments, highlighting the importance of designing small molecular analogues to replace growth factors with large molecular weights.

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