Development of aliphatic biodegradable photoluminescent polymers

Jian Yang*, Yi Zhang, Santosh Gautam, Li Liu, Jagannath Dey, Wei Chen, Ralph P. Mason, Carlos A. Serrano, Kevin A. Schug, Liping Tang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Citations (Scopus)


None of the current biodegradable polymers can function as both implant materials and fluorescent imaging probes. The objective of this study was to develop aliphatic biodegradable photoluminescent polymers (BPLPs) and their associated cross-linked variants (CBPLPs) for biomedical applications. BPLPs are degradable oligomers synthesized from biocompatible monomers including citric acid, aliphatic diols, and various amino acids via a convenient and cost-effective polycondensation reaction. BPLPs can be further cross-linked into elastomeric cross-linked polymers, CBPLPs. We have shown representatively that BPLP-cysteine (BPLP-Cys) and BPLP-serine (BPLP-Ser) offer advantages over the traditional fluorescent organic dyes and quantum dots because of their preliminarily demonstrated cytocompatibility in vitro, minimal chronic inflammatory responses in vivo, controlled degradability and high quantum yields (up to 62.33%), tunable fluorescence emission (up to 725 nm), and photostability. The tensile strength of CBPLP-Cys film ranged from 3.25 ± 0.13 MPa to 6.5 ± 0.8 MPa and the initial Modulus was in a range of 3.34 ± 0.15 MPa to 7.02 ± 1.40 MPa. Elastic CBPLP-Cys could be elongated up to 240 ± 36%. The compressive modulus of BPLP-Cys (0.6) (1:1:0.6 OD:CA:Cys) porous scaffold was 39.60 ± 5.90 KPa confirming the soft nature of the scaffolds. BPLPs also possess great processability for micro/nanofabrication. We demonstrate the feasibility of using BPLP-Ser nanoparticles ("biodegradable quantum dots") for in vitro cellular labeling and noninvasive in vivo imaging of tissue engineering scaffolds. The development of BPLPs and CBPLPs represents a new direction in developing fluorescent biomaterials and could impact tissue engineering, drug delivery, bioimaging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10086-10091
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioimaging
  • Elastomers
  • Photoluminescence
  • Tissue engineering


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