Journal of biomedical materials research. Part B, Applied biomaterials

Cytotoxicity associated with electrospun polyvinyl alcohol.

PMID 25573200


Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is a synthetic, water-soluble polymer, with applications in industries ranging from textiles to biomedical devices. Research on electrospinning of PVA has been targeted toward optimizing or finding novel applications in the biomedical field. However, the effects of electrospinning on PVA biocompatibility have not been thoroughly evaluated. In this study, the cytotoxicity of electrospun PVA (nPVA) which was not crosslinked after electrospinning was assessed. PVA polymers of several molecular weights were dissolved in distilled water and electrospun using the same parameters. Electrospun PVA materials with varying molecular weights were then dissolved in tissue culture medium and directly compared against solutions of nonelectrospun PVA polymer in human coronary artery smooth muscle cells and human coronary artery endothelial cells cultures. All nPVA solutions were cytotoxic at a threshold molar concentration that correlated with the molecular weight of the starting PVA polymer. In contrast, none of the nonelectrospun PVA solutions caused any cytotoxicity, regardless of their concentration in the cell culture. Evaluation of the nPVA material by differential scanning calorimetry confirmed that polymer degradation had occurred after electrospinning. To elucidate the identity of the nPVA component that caused cytotoxicity, nPVA materials were dissolved, fractionated using size exclusion columns, and the different fractions were added to HCASMC and human coronary artery endothelial cells cultures. These studies indicated that the cytotoxic component of the different nPVA solutions were present in the low-molecular-weight fraction. Additionally, the amount of PVA present in the 3-10 kg/mol fraction was approximately sixfold greater than that in the nonelectrospun samples. In conclusion, electrospinning of PVA resulted in small-molecular-weight fractions that were cytotoxic to cells. This result demonstrates that biocompatibility of electrospun biodegradable polymers should not be assumed on the basis of success of their nonelectrospun predecessors.