Perfluorophenyl azide functionalization of electrospun poly(para-dioxanone)


Strategies to surface‐functionalize scaffolds by covalent binding of biologically active compounds are of fundamental interest to control the interactions between scaffolds and biomolecules or cells. Poly(para‐dioxanone) (PPDO) is a clinically established polymer that has shown potential as temporary implant, eg, for the reconstruction of the inferior vena cava, as a nonwoven fiber mesh. However, PPDO lacks suitable chemical groups for covalent functionalization. Furthermore, PPDO is highly sensitive to hydrolysis, reflected by short in vivo half‐life times and degradation during storage. Establishing a method for covalent functionalization without degradation of this hydrolyzable polymer is therefore important to enable the surface tailoring for tissue engineering applications. It was hypothesized that treatment of PPDO with an N‐hydroxysuccinimide ester group bearing perfluorophenyl azide (PFPA) under UV irradiation would allow efficient surface functionalization of the scaffold. X‐ray photoelectron spectroscopy and attenuated total reflectance Fourier‐transformed infrared spectroscopy investigation revealed the successful binding, while a gel permeation chromatography study showed that degradation did not occur under these conditions. Coupling of a rhodamine dye to the N‐hydroxysuccinimide esters on the surface of a PFPA‐functionalized scaffold via its amine linker showed a homogenous staining of the PPDO in laser confocal microscopy. The PFPA method is therefore applicable even to the surface functionalization of hydrolytically labile polymers, and it was demonstrated that PFPA chemistry may serve as a versatile tool for the (bio‐)functionalization of PPDO scaffolds.
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