Sterilization procedure is one of the most important obstacles in the clinical applications of biodegradable microspheres. The microspheres prepared with poly(α-hydroxy acid) were severely aggregated during ethylene oxide (EO) gas sterilization, and could not be used in clinical applications. In this study, the effects of EO gas sterilization on the poly(L-lactide) (PLLA) microspheres were analyzed by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-NMR), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), gel permeation chromatography (GPC), scanning electron microscope (SEM) and size fractionation. The aggregation between the microspheres might be stimulated by high mobility of amorphous regions of PLLA on the microsphere surfaces since both water vapor and gas mixture can reduce glass transition temperature (Tg) of PLLA below the sterilization temperature. During EO gas sterilization, there were no changes in the molecular structure and the molecular weight of PLLA in microspheres, but there were changes in the crystallinity of PLLA in microspheres. In this study, poly(L-lactide)-poly(ethylene glycol) diblock copolymers (PLE) were blended with PLLA homopolymers in various ratios to design the microsphere suitable for EO gas sterilization. Aggregation of PLLA microspheres was markedly prevented when more than 4wt% of PLE was blended in the microspheres. This inhibition effect on aggregation may be due to the increased initial crystallinity of the microspheres, which help to maintain the microsphere morphology during EO gas sterilization.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ceramics and Composites
- Mechanics of Materials