In vitro degradation of thin poly(DL-lactic-co-glycolic acid) films

Lichun Lu, Charles A. Garcia, Antonios G. Mikos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

304 Scopus citations


This study was designed to investigate the in vitro degradation of thin poly(DL-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) films for applications in retinal pigment epithelium transplantation and guided tissue regeneration. PLGA films of copolymer ratios of 75:25 and 50:50 were manufactured with thickness levels of 10 μm (thin) and 100 μm (thick). Degradation of the films occurred during sample processing, and thin films with a higher surface area to volume ratio degraded faster. Sample weight loss, molecular weight loss, dimensional, and morphological changes were analyzed over a 10-week period of degradation in 0.2 M of phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), pH 7.4, at 37°C. All PLGA films degraded by heterogeneous bulk degradation. Sample weights remained relatively constant for the first several weeks and then decreased dramatically. The molecular weights of PLGA films decreased immediately upon placement in PBS and continued to decrease throughout the time course. PLGA 50:50 films degraded faster than 75:25 films due to their higher content of hydrophilic glycolic units. The results also demonstrated that thick films degrade faster than corresponding thin films with the same composition. This was attributed to title greater extent of the autocatalytic effect, which further was confirmed by heterogeneous gel permeation chromatograms. These studies suggest that the degradation rate of thin films can be engineered by varying film thicknesses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-244
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Biodegradable polymer
  • Degradation
  • Guided tissue regeneration
  • Poly(DL-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA)
  • Retinal pigment epithelium transplantation
  • Thin film

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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