How does polycaprolactone complete biodegradation

Unilong supplier named Uli-Eco polycaprolactone is a partially crystalline synthetic polyester, pcl polymer is easily degraded by lipase and esterase of microorganisms.

Polycaprolactone is a biodegradable, biocompatible and non-toxic polymer like Polylactic Acid.
Among the family of biodegradable polymers, PLA and PCL are widely used in packaging because of their easy availability, good biodegradability and good mechanical properties.
Polycaprolactone has excellent chemical and solvent resistance, good toughness, and has a low glass transition temperature (-60 o C) and melting temperature (60 o C). The high mobility and low intermolecular interactions of the segments lead to very low melting and glass transition temperatures.


Caprolactone is a chemically synthesized biodegradable polymer material. In nature, the ester group structure is easily decomposed by microorganisms or enzymes. The final products are carbon dioxide and water. The degradation process is as follows:



The PCL degradation equation can be expressed as a chemical reaction formula:

Among them, PCL is a polycaprolactone molecule, H20 is a water molecule, HOOC(CH2)4COOH and HOCH2(CH2)4COOH are degradation products, which are dibasic acids and dibasic alcohols, respectively.This reaction formula shows that in organisms, polycaprolactone polymer molecules undergo ester hydrolysis reaction with water molecules, decompose into dibasic acids and diols, and are finally metabolized and excreted by organisms.

Researchers from Unilong found that the degradation pathway of polycaprolactone in vivo is divided into two stages:

1. Firstly, the macromolecular polycaprolactone undergoes hydrolysis and cleavage of ester bonds in the human body, so the molecular weight continues to decrease, but there will be no deformation or weight loss during the process.
2. The second stage is that after becoming small molecules (molecular weight below 5000), the material begins to become fragments and begins to lose weight. Phagocytes and giant cells in the body engulf and digest these small molecules. Finally, these substances that cannot be absorbed by the body are transferred into the urine and excreted by the body until they are completely degraded.

At the same time, we also analyzed the effect of lipase on the degradation of PCL microparticles at pH 7-14 and 37±1°C:
1. Under the condition of no enzyme, the surface morphology of PCL microparticles did not change significantly when it was degraded to 9 weeks.
2. Under the condition of lipase, when degraded for 3 weeks, the surface of the particles was rough, tiny holes began to appear, the molecular weight decreased and the molecular weight distribution increased, and the PCL particles showed a striped void structure at 9 weeks.
In summary, it reflects the promotion effect of lipase on the degradation of PCL microparticles and the biodegradability of PCL microparticles.

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Unilong®️ Group specializes in the research, development, production and operation of biological materials and green solvents. It is a high-tech enterprise integrating the research, development and production of new environmentally friendly and degradable materials.

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