Biocompatible, degradable thermoplastic polyurethane based on polycaprolactone-block-polytetrahydrofuran-block-polycaprolactone copolymers for soft tissue engineering.

Research paper by Hao-Yang HY Mi, Xin X Jing, Brett N BN Napiwocki, Breanna S BS Hagerty, Guojun G Chen, Lih-Sheng LS Turng

Indexed on: 25 Nov '17Published on: 25 Nov '17Published in: Journal of materials chemistry. B, Materials for biology and medicine


Biodegradable synthetic polymers have been widely used as tissue engineering scaffold materials. Even though they have shown excellent biocompatibility, they have failed to resemble the low stiffness and high elasticity of soft tissues because of the presence of massive rigid ester bonds. Herein, we synthesized a new thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer (CTC-PU(BET)) using poly ester ether triblock copolymer (polycaprolactone-block-polytetrahydrofuran-block-polycaprolactone triblock copolymer, PCTC) as the soft segment, aliphatic diisocyanate (hexamethylene diisocyanate, HDI) as the hard segment, and degradable diol (bis(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate, BET) as the chain extender. PCTC inhibited crystallization and reduced the melting temperature of CTC-PU(BET), and BET dramatically enhanced the thermal decomposition and hydrolytic degradation rate when compared with conventional polyester-based biodegradable TPUs. The CTC-PU(BET) synthesized in this study possessed a low tensile modulus and tensile strength of 2.2 MPa and 1.3 MPa, respectively, and an elongation-at-break over 700%. Meanwhile, it maintained a 95.3% recovery rate and 90% resilience over ten cycles of loading and unloading. In addition, the TPU could be electrospun into both random and aligned fibrous scaffolds consisting of major microfibers and nanobranches. 3T3 fibroblast cell culture confirmed that these scaffolds outperformed the conventional biodegradable TPU scaffolds in terms of substrate-cellular interactions and cell proliferation. Considering the advantages of this TPU, such as ease of synthesis, low cost, low stiffness, high elasticity, controllable degradation rate, ease of processability, and excellent biocompatibility, it has great prospects to be used as a tissue engineering scaffold material for soft tissue regeneration.