Epiphora is the overflow of tears typically caused by obstruction or occlusion of the nasolacrimal duct. More attention is required to address this global health issue owing to the increase in air pollution. Implantation of a silicone stent is the preferred treatment for epiphora; however, introducing a silicone stent into a narrow duct with complex geometry is challenging as it requires guidance by a sharp metal needle. Additionally, silicone can cause adverse reactions such as biofilm formation and tear flow resistance due to its extreme hydrophobicity. To overcome these problems, in this study we developed a new type of biocompatible shape memory polymer (SMP) stent with elasticity capacity for self-expansion. First, SMPs in the form of x%poly(ε-caprolactone)-co–y%poly(glycidyl methacrylate) (x%PCL–y%PGMA) were synthesized via ring opening polymerization by varying the molar ratio of PCL (x%) and PGMA (y%). Second, the shape memory and mechanical properties were tuned by controlling the crosslinking degree and concentration of x%PCL–y%PGMA solution to produce a test type of SMP stent. Lastly, this 94%PCL–06%PGMA stent exhibited more standout critical functions in a series of in vitro and in vivo experiments such as a cell growth-supporting level of biocompatibility with nasal epithelial cells without significant inflammatory responses, better resistance to biofilm formation, and more efficient capacity to drain tear than the silicone control. Overall, 94%PCL–06%PGMA can be suggested as a superior alternative to the currently used materials for nasolacrimal stents. Statement of significance: Silicone intubation (stenting) has been widely used to treat nasolacrimal duct obstruction, however, it can cause adverse clinical effects such as bacterial infection; presents procedural challenges because of the curved nasolacrimal duct structure; and shows poor drainage efficiency stemming from the highly hydrophobic nature of silicone. In this work, we describe an innovative shape memory polymer (SMP) as a superior alternative to conventional silicone-based materials for nasolacrimal duct intubation. We demonstrate the clear advantages of the SMP over conventional silicone, including a much higher drainage capacity and superior resistance to bacterial infection.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- Molecular Biology