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Measuring the Interactions between Protein-Coated Microspheres and Polymer Brushes in Aqueous Solutions

Li, Wendi, Cao, Feng, He, Chuanxin, Ohno, Kohji, Ngai, To
Langmuir 2018 v.34 no.30 pp. 8798-8806
adsorption, aqueous solutions, biocompatible materials, bovine serum albumin, electrostatic interactions, hydrophilicity, ionic strength, microparticles, polymers, sodium chloride, zwitterions
Hydrophilic or zwitterionic polymer-functionalized surfaces have become attractive biomaterials in bioscience and technology due to their excellent protein-resistant ability. Understanding the fundamental interactions between proteins and polymers plays an essential role in the surface design of biomaterials. In this work, we studied the interactions between bovine serum albumin (BSA) and two sorts of polymer brushes including zwitterionic poly(carboxybetaine methacrylate) (PCBMA) and hydrophilic poly[oligo(ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate] (POEGMA) in NaCl aqueous solutions directly with a self-established total internal reflection microscope (TIRM) to provide a better understanding of the underlying nonfouling mechanism of polymers. Our results indicate that both the surface charge and brushes length can affect protein adsorption through electrostatic and steric repulsions, respectively. Both PCBMA- and POEGMA-coated surfaces display negative charge properties due to incomplete coverage and ionic adsorption. As a result, strong electrostatic repulsions between proteins and negatively charged polymer-coated surfaces could contribute to the resistance of protein-coated particles in solutions with low ionic strength (0.1, 0.5, and 1 mM) and disappear in solutions with high ionic strength (10 mM). The measured interaction profiles demonstrate that PCBMA brushes could provide apparent steric forces only at high ionic strength (10 mM), where zwitterionic brushes exhibit a relatively extended conformation with a lack of electrostatic forces between intra- and interpolymers. In contrast, the steric repulsion between proteins and POEGMA brushes appears when particles diffuse at low positions in all salt concentrations (0.1–10 mM) with similar steric decay lengths, which results from the unresponsiveness of POEGMA brushes to the salt stimulus.