Poly(D,L-Lactide)-block-Poly(2-Hydroxyethyl Acrylate) Block Copolymers as Potential Biomaterials for Peripheral Nerve Repair: in vitro and in vivo Degradation Studies

  • Clement Benoit
  • Decherchi Patrick
  • Féron François
  • Bertin Denis
  • Gigmes Didier
  • Trimaille Thomas
  • Marqueste Tanguy


The properties of poly(D,L-lactide)-block-poly(2-hydroxyethyl acrylate) (PLA-b-PHEA) block copolymers by means of in vitro / in vivo (rat) degradation are investigated and compared to those of PLA homopolymer. Over 12 weeks, we observe mass loss and molecular weight decrease. In vitro and in vivo findings are very similar for each polymer tested. When a short PHEA block is used (PLA-b-PHEA 15 000-3 000 g.mol(-1), 85/15 wt%), the degradation process is found to be very similar to that of homo-PLA, and to be typical of a bulk erosion mechanism, with no mass loss observed until week 7 and continuous decrease of molar mass within this timeframe. For a longer PHEA block length within the block copolymer (PLA-b-PHEA 15 000-7 500 g.mol(-1), 65/35 wt%), the degradation mechanism is modified, with a significant mass loss observed at early times and only a slight decrease in molar mass. The latter finding is related to the pronounced hydrophilicity and softness of the material induced by the PHEA block, which allow easy diffusion and rapid leakage of the degradation residues from the material towards the aqueous medium. Schwann cells are found to better adhere on spin-coated films of PLA-b-PHEA (85/15 wt%) than on PLA ones. These results show the potential of such hydrophilized PLA-based copolymers for use in peripheral nerve repair.