Implantable and Degradable Thermoplastic Elastomer

Allison Siehr, Craig Flory, Trenton Callaway, Robert J Schumacher, Ronald A. Siegel, Wei Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Biodegradable and implantable materials having elastomeric properties are highly desirable for many biomedical applications. Here, we report that poly(lactide)-co-poly(β-methyl-δ-valerolactone)-co-poly(lactide) (PLA-PβMδVL-PLA), a thermoplastic triblock poly(α-ester), has combined favorable properties of elasticity, biodegradability, and biocompatibility. This material exhibits excellent elastomeric properties in both dry and aqueous environments. The elongation at break is approximately 1000%, and stretched specimens completely recover to their original shape after force is removed. The material is degradable both in vitro and in vivo; it degrades more slowly than poly(glycerol sebacate) and more rapidly than poly(caprolactone) in vivo. Both the polymer and its degradation product show high cytocompatibility in vitro. The histopathological analysis of PLA-PβMδVL-PLA specimens implanted in the gluteal muscle of rats for 1, 4, and 8 weeks revealed similar tissue responses as compared with poly(glycerol sebacate) and poly(caprolactone) controls, two widely accepted implantable polymers, suggesting that PLA-PβMδVL-PLA can potentially be used as an implantable material with favorable in vivo biocompatibility. The thermoplastic nature allows this elastomer to be readily processed, as demonstrated by the facile fabrication of the substrates with topographical cues to enhance muscle cell alignment. These properties collectively make this polymer potentially highly valuable for applications such as medical devices and tissue engineering scaffolds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5598-5610
Number of pages13
JournalACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 13 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Prof. David Wood for use of the Carver 4386 hot press, Prof. Marc Hillmyer for use of the Shimadzu AGS-X tensile tester and the equipment for SEC-MALLS, Prof. Victor Barocas for use of the TestResources 100Q Tensile Tester, and Prof. Chun Wang for use of some synthesis equipment. We thank Dr. Deborah K. Schneiderman, Dr. Jacob P. Brutman, Dr. Annabelle Watts, Elizabeth Shih, Sandra L. Johnson, Dr. Anasuya Sahoo, and Dr. Davin Rautiola for discussions. We thank Beverly Norris, Margaret Mysz, Nicole Larson, Lia Coicou, Brenda Koniar, and Josh McCarra for helping with the in vivo studies. Fabrication of disk-shaped PLA-PβMδVL-PLA and PCL specimens was carried out in the College of Science and Engineering Polymer Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which has received capital equipment funding from the National Science Foundation through the UMN MRSEC under award number DMR-2011401. NMR analyses were performed in the LeClaire-Dow instrumentation facility, which is supported by the Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health, under award number S10OD011952. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. We used the glovebox in the Minnesota Nanocenter, which is supported by the National Science Foundation through the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) under award number ECCS-2025124. This work was supported by the Institute for Engineering in Medicine and the ODAT Translational Technologies and Resources (TTR) Core Usage Program at the University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:


  • biocompatibility
  • biodegradability
  • elastomeric biomaterials
  • implantable materials
  • mechanical properties

MRSEC Support

  • Shared

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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