Multifunctional polymeric microfibers with prolonged drug delivery and structural support capabilities
The strength and stability of hybrid fiber delivery systems, ones that perform a mechanical function and simultaneously deliver drug, are critical in the design of surgically implantable constructs. We report the fabrication of drug-eluting microfibers where drug loading and processing conditions alone increase microfiber strength and stability partially due to solvent-induced crystallization. Poly(l-lactic acid) microfibers of 64 ± 7 μm diameter were wet spun by phase inversion. Encapsulation of a model hydrophobic anti-inflammatory drug, dexamethasone, at high loading provided stability to microfibers which maintained linear cumulative release kinetics up to 8 weeks in vitro. In our wet spinning process, all microfibers had increased crystallinity (13–17%) in comparison to unprocessed polymer without any mechanical stretching. Moreover, microfibers with the highest drug loading retained 97% of initial tensile strength and were statistically stronger than all other microfiber formulations, including control fibers without drug. Results indicate that the encapsulation of small hydrophobic molecules (<400 Da) may increase the mechanical integrity of microfilaments whose crystallinity is also increased as a result of the process. Multifunctional drug-eluting microfibers can provide an exciting new opportunity to design novel biomaterials with mechanical stability and controlled release of a variety of therapeutics with micron-scale accuracy.
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Journal: Acta Biomaterialia - Volume 8, Issue 5, May 2012, Pages 1891–1900