Effect of ethylene oxide sterilization on polyvinyl alcohol hydrogel compared with gamma radiation

Grace Pohan, Sabrina Mattiassi, Yuan Yao, Aung Moe Zaw, Deirdre E.J. Anderson, Marie F.A. Cutiongco, Monica T. Hinds, Evelyn K.F. Yim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This study investigated the effects of terminal sterilization of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) biomaterials using clinically translatable techniques, specifically ethylene oxide (EtO) and gamma (g) irradiation. While a few studies have reported the possibility of sterilizing PVA with g-radiation, the use of EtO sterilization of PVA requires additional study. PVA solutions were chemically crosslinked with trisodium trimetaphosphate and sodium hydroxide. The three experimental groups included untreated control, EtO, and g-irradiation, which were tested for the degree of swelling and water content, and mechanical properties such as radial compliance, longitudinal tensile, minimum bend radius, burst pressure, and suture retention strength. In addition, samples were characterized with scanning electron microscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and water contact angle measurements. Cell attachment was assessed using the endothelial cell line EA.hy926, and the sterilized PVA cytotoxicity was studied with a live/dead stain. Platelet and fibrin accumulation was measured using an ex vivo shunt baboon model. Finally, the immune responses of PVA implants were analyzed after a 21-day subcutaneous implantation in rats and a 30-day implantation in baboon. EtO sterilization reduced the PVA graft wall thickness, its degree of swelling, and water content compared with both g-irradiated and untreated PVA. Moreover, EtO sterilization significantly reduced the radial compliance and increased Young's modulus. EtO did not change PVA hydrophilicity, while g-irradiation increased the water contact angle of the PVA. Consequently, endothelial cell attachment on the EtO-sterilized PVA showed similar results to the untreated PVA, while cell attachment significantly improved on the g-irradiated PVA. When exposing the PVA grafts to circulating whole blood, fibrin accumulation of EtO-sterilized PVA was found to be significantly lower than g-irradiated PVA. The immune responses of g-irradiated PVA, EtO-treated PVA, and untreated PVA were compared. Implanted EtO-treated PVA showed the least MAC387 reaction. The terminal sterilization methods in this study changed PVA hydrogel properties; nevertheless, based on the characterizations performed, both sterilization methods were suitable for sterilizing PVA. We concluded that EtO can be used as an alternative method to sterilize PVA hydrogel material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1077-1090
Number of pages14
JournalTissue Engineering - Part A
Issue number19-20
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Cell adhesion
  • Hemocompatibility
  • Irradiation
  • Small-diameter vascular grafts
  • Terminal sterilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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