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Biomaterials. 2002 Nov;23(22):4333-43.

Photocrosslinking characteristics and mechanical properties of diethyl fumarate/poly(propylene fumarate) biomaterials.

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Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, Houston, TX 77251-1892, USA.


The development of tissue engineered materials for the treatment of large bone defects would provide attractive alternatives to the autografts, allografts, non-degradable polymers, ceramics, and metals that are currently used in clinical settings. To this end, poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF), a viscous polyester synthesized from diethyl fumarate (DEF), has been studied for use as an engineered bone graft. We have investigated the photocrosslinking of PPF dissolved in its precursor, DEF, using the photoinitiator bis(2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyl) phenylphosphine oxide (BAPO) and low levels of ultraviolet light exposure. A three factor, 2 x 2 x 4 factorial design was developed, studying the effects of PPF number average molecular weight, BAPO initiator content, and DEF content upon photocrosslinking characteristics and mechanical properties. Uncured DEF/PPF solution viscosity fell over three orders of magnitude as DEF content was increased from 0% to 75%. The exothermic photocrosslinking reaction released low levels of heat, with no more than 160J/g released from any formulation tested. As a result, the maximum photocrosslinking temperature remained below 47 degrees C for all samples. Both sol fraction and swelling degree generally increased with increasing DEF content. Compressive mechanical properties were within the range of trabecular bone, with the strongest samples possessing an elastic modulus of 195.3 +/- 17.5 MPa and a fracture strength of 68.8 +/- 9.4MPa. Finally, the results indicate that PPF crosslinking was facilitated at low DEF precursor concentrations, but hindered at higher precursor concentrations. These novel DEF/PPF solutions may be preferred over pure PPF as the basis for an engineered bone graft because they (1) exhibit reduced viscosity and thus are easily handled, (2) form polymer networks with compressive strength at fracture suitable for consideration for trabecular bone replacement, and (3) may be readily fabricated into solids with a wide range of structures.

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