Fatty-acid-derived ester-urethane macromonomers synthesized using bismuth and zinc catalysts


Minimally invasive surgical approaches require the development of new injectable materials. A particularly attractive strategy involves using photocurable materials that can be delivered as liquids and rapidly cured in situ using UV light. The aim of this work was to synthesize and characterize fatty-acid-derived ester-urethane telechelic (methacrylate) macromonomers, suitable for photopolymerization. The commonly used dibutyltin dilaurate catalyst was replaced with bismuth neodecanoate, bismuth tris(2-ethylhexanoate), and zinc (II) acetyloacetonate as less-toxic alternative catalysts. Additionally, ethyl acetate was used as a “green” solvent. The progress of the two-step synthesis was monitored with infrared spectroscopy. The chemical structure and molecular weight of the obtained viscous materials was characterized with nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and gel permeation chromatography. Photocrosslinking of the macromonomers into elastomeric films was achieved using 150 s per spot of UV light (20 mW/cm2) exposure. Mechanical tensile testing of the films confirmed tensile strength and modulus values in a range of values typical of soft tissue. Finally, in vitro cytotoxicity tests showed high cell viability for the case of materials synthesized using bismuth and zinc catalysts. Overall, our results indicate that bismuth and zinc catalysts are excellent alternatives to organotin compounds in the synthesis of photocurable methacrylate ester-urethanes for biomedical applications, such as minimally invasive surgical protocols.

Graphical Abstract