Bioacceptable and calcification-resistant membranes and interfaces for implantable sensors and devices

Date of Completion

January 2003


Chemistry, Polymer|Engineering, Biomedical|Engineering, Materials Science




The rational design and characterization of biocompatible, semipermeable and calcification resistant materials to serve as an outer membrane for implantable glucose biosensors, was the primary focus of this research. Multilayered films of polyanions (i.e. Nafion™, a perfluorinated ionomer, and Humic Acids (HAs), naturally occurring biopolymers), fabricated by layer-by-layer self-assembly with oppositely charged ferric ions were investigated as potential membranes. Spectroscopic ellipsometry and quartz crystal microbalance studies point towards a stepwise film growth, with growth rates of 47 and 24.3 nm per layer (for Nafion and HAs respectively) that can be altered depending on the pH and ionic strength of the polyanion solution. Nafion/Fe3+ assembled films exhibited an order of magnitude lower calcification as compared to dip-coated Nafion films and did not require annealing to impart insolubility. Similarly the HAs/Fe3+ films were also devoid of calcification, even after four-week immersion in DMEM cell culture media. Significantly, in vivo studies on the HAs/Fe3 films point to their biocompatibility as demonstrated by mild tissue reaction. These results, along with controllable glucose permeability, could prove vital in prolonging the lifetime of implantable biosensors. ^ Additionally in effort to minimize tissue trauma upon implantation, novel poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microsphere/poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) hydrogel composites were investigated for dexamethasone delivery. A release rate of 25 to 40% over one month, following a zero order profile, was achieved by preferential adsorption of surface active polyacids (poly(acrylic acid), Nafion and HAs) on the hydrogel dispersed microspheres. Environmental scanning electron microscopy investigation on the degradation mechanism of the microspheres pointed towards their slow homogeneous degradation in the PVA hydrogels that was significantly surface-accelerated in the presence of polyacids. The physico-mechanical properties (fluid uptake and Young's modulus) and release of unencapsulated dexamethasone (80 to 100%) from the hydrogels were related to their crystallinity. Significantly, with Young's modulus in the range of 0.1 to 4 MPa, comparable to human sub-dermal tissue, the hydrated gels provide soft and flexible tissue/sensor interface. ^