Precipitation casting of polycaprolactone for applications in tissue engineering and drug delivery

A. G A Coombes*, S. C. Rizzi, M. Williamson, J. E. Barralet, S. Downes, W. A. Wallace

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microporous materials have been produced by gradual precipitation from solutions of poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) in acetone induced by solvent extraction across a semi-permeable PCL membrane which is formed in situ at the polymer solution/non-solvent interface. Microparticulates of hydroxyapatite and inulin polysaccharide, respectively, were incorporated in precipitation cast PCL matrices to illustrate potential applications in hard tissue repair and macromolecular drug release. Microporous PCL and HA filled PCL materials were found to provide a favourable surface for attachment and growth of primary human osteoblasts in cell culture. The in vitro degradation characteristics of microporous PCL and inulin/PCL materials in PBS at 37°C were monitored over 45 months. Microporous PCL demonstrated zero weight loss, minor changes in molecular weight characteristics and a fairly constant indentation resistance of around 1MN/m2. Inulin-loaded PCL materials exhibited a total weight loss of approximately 17% after 12 months in PBS. The indentation resistance decreased by 50% from an initial value of 28MN/m2 in the first 2 months and then remained stable. Precipitation cast materials based on PCL are expected to be useful for formulating long-term, controlled release devices for bioactive molecules such as growth factors and hormones and extended-residence supports for cell growth and tissue development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-325
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • Bone substitute
  • Drug delivery
  • In vitro degradation
  • Poly(ε-caprolactone)


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