Indexed on: 11 Jun '10Published on: 11 Jun '10Published in: Journal of biomaterials science. Polymer edition
Synthetic polymers such as polypyrrole (PPy) are gaining significance in neural studies because of their conductive properties. We evaluated two novel biodegradable block co-polymers of PPy with poly(epsilon-caprolactone) (PCL) and poly(ethyl cyanoacrylate) (PECA) for nerve regeneration applications. PPy-PCL and PPy-PECA co-polymers can be processed from solvent-based colloidal dispersions and have essentially the same or greater conductivity (32 S/cm for PPy-PCL, 19 S/cm for PPy-PECA) compared to the PPy homo-polymer (22 S/cm). The PPy portions of the co-polymers permit electrical stimulation whereas the PCL or PECA blocks enable degradation by hydrolysis. For in vitro tests, films were prepared on polycarbonate sheets by air brushing layers of dispersions and pressing the films. We characterized the films for hydrolytic degradation, electrical conductivity, cell proliferation and neurite extension. The co-polymers were sufficient to carry out electrical stimulation of cells without the requirement of a metallic conductor underneath the co-polymer film. In vitro electrical stimulation of PPy-PCL significantly increased the number of PC12 cells bearing neurites compared to unstimulated PPy-PCL. For in vivo experiments, the PPy co-polymers were coated onto the inner walls of nerve guidance channels (NGCs) made of the commercially available non-conducting biodegradable polymer poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHB-HV). The NGCs were implanted in a 10 mm defect made in the sciatic nerve of rats, and harvested after 8 weeks. Histological staining showed axonal growth. The studies indicated that these new conducting degradable biomaterials have good biocompatibility and support proliferation and growth of PC12 cells in vitro (with and without electrical stimulation) and neurons in vivo (without electrical stimulation).