Traditional methods using coupling chemistry for surface grafting of heparin onto polyurethane (PU) are disadvantageous due to their generally low efficiency. In order to overcome this problem, a quick one-step photografting method is proposed here. Three heparin derivatives incorporating 0.21, 0.58, and 0.88 wt% pendant aryl azide groups were immobilized onto PU surfaces, leading to similar grafting densities of 1.07, 1.17, and 1.13 μg/cm2
, respectively, yet with increasing densities of anchoring points. The most negatively charged surface and the maximum binding ability towards antithrombin III were found for the heparinized PU with the lowest amount of aryl azide/anchor sites. Furthermore, decreasing the density of anchoring points was found to inhibit platelet adhesion to a larger extent and to prolong plasma recalcification time, prothrombin time, thrombin time, and activated partial thromboplastin time to a larger extent. This was also found to enhance the bioactivity of immobilized heparin from 22.9% for raw heparin to 36.9%. This could be explained by the enhanced molecular mobility of immobilized heparin when it is more loosely anchored to the PU surface, as well as a higher surface charge.
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