Polycaprolactone fumarate (PCLF) is a cross-linkable derivative of polycaprolactone diol that has been shown to be an effective nerve conduit material that supports regeneration across segmental nerve defects and has warranted future clinical trials. Degradation of PCLF (PCLFDEG) releases toxic small molecules of diethylene glycol used as the initiator for the synthesis of polycaprolactone diol. In an effort to eliminate this toxic degradation product we present a strategy for the synthesis of PCLF from either propylene glycol (PCLFPPD) or glycerol (PCLFGLY). PCLFPPDis linear and resembles the previously studied PCLFDEG, while PCLFGLYis branched and exhibits dramatically different material properties. The synthesis and characterization of their thermal, rheological, and mechanical properties are reported. The results show that the linear PCLFPPDhas material properties similar to the previously studied PCLFDEG. The branched PCLFGLYexhibits dramatically lower crystalline properties resulting in lower rheological and mechanical moduli, and is therefore a more compliant material. In addition, the question of an appropriate Food and Drug Administration approvable sterilization method is addressed. This study shows that autoclave sterilization of PCLF materials is an acceptable sterilization method for cross-linked PCLF and has minimal effect on the PCLF thermal and mechanical properties. © 2011 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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