Evaluation of novel injectable hydrogels for nucleus pulposus replacement

J. Vernengo, G. W. Fussell, N. G. Smith, A. M. Lowman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Branched copolymers composed of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm) and poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) are being investigated as an in situ forming replacement for the nucleus pulposus of the intervertebral disc. A family of copolymers was synthesized by varying the molecular weight of the PEG blocks and molar ratio of NIPAAm monomer units to PEG branches. Gel swelling, dissolution, and compressive mechanical properties were characterized over 90 days and stress relaxation behavior over 30 days immersion in vitro. It was found that the NIPAAm to PEG molar ratio did not affect the equilibrium swelling and compressive mechanical properties. However, gel elasticity exhibited a dependency on both the PEG block molecular weight and content. The equilibrium gel water content increased and compressive modulus decreased with increasing PEG block size. While all of the branched copolymers showed significant increases in stress relaxation time constant compared to the homopolymer (p < 0.05), the high PEG content PNIPAAm-PEG (4600 and 8000 g/mol) exhibited the maximum elasticity. Because of its high water content, requisite stiffness and high elastic response, PNIPAAm-PEG (4600 g/mol) will be further evaluated as a candidate material for nucleus pulposus replacement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-69
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part B Applied Biomaterials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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