Poly(ortho ester amides): Acid-labile temperature-responsive copolymers for potential biomedical applications

Rupei Tang, R. Noelle Palumbo, Weihang Ji, Chun Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


A new, convenient pathway is developed to synthesize highly hydrolytically labile poly(ortho ester amide) (POEA) copolymers that overcomes some of the major weaknesses of the traditional methods of synthesizing poly(ortho esters) and their derivatives. A diamine monomer containing a built-in, stabilized ortho ester group was synthesized and was used for polycondensation with diacid esters, giving rise to a series of POEA copolymers with unique stimuli-responsive properties. The POEA undergoes temperature-responsive, reversible sol-gel phase transition in water. Phase diagrams of the POEA/H 2O mixture reveal the concentration-dependent existence of different phases, including hydrogel and opaque or clear solution. Such behavior may be attributed to the temperature- dependent hydrogen-bonding involving the amide groups in the POEA backbone and hydrophobic interactions between POEA chains, and it is tunable by selecting diacid monomers with different chemical structures. The kinetics of POEA mass loss in physiological aqueous buffers and release of a model macromolecular drug, fluorescently labeled dextran, are nearly zero-order, suggesting predominantly surface-restricted polymer erosion. The rates of polymer erosion and drug release are much faster at pH 5.0 than pH 7.4. No cytotoxicity was found for the polymer extracts and the polymer degradation products at concentrations as high as 1 mg/mL. The normal morphology of fibroblasts cultured directly in contact with POEA films was not altered. These novel acid-labile temperature-responsive POEA copolymers may be potentially useful for a wide range of biomedical applications such as minimal invasive delivery of controlled-release drug formulations that respond to biological temperature and acidic-pH environments in cells and tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-727
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 13 2009


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