Protein adsorption on solid surfaces provides either beneficial or adverse outcomes, depending on the application. Therefore, the desire to predict, control, and regulate protein adsorption on different surfaces is a major concern in the field of biomaterials. The most widely used surface modification approach to prevent or limit protein adsorption is based on the use of poly (ethylene oxide) (PEO). On the other hand, the amount of protein adsorbed on poly(2-(dimethylamine)ethyl methacrylate) (PDMAEMA) coatings can be regulated by the pH and ionic strength of the medium. In this work, ultra-thin PEO/PDMAEMA coatings were designed from solutions with different ratios of PEO to PDMAEMA, and different molar masses of PEO, to reversibly adsorb and desorb human serum albumin (HSA), human fibrinogen (Fb), lysozyme (Lys), and avidine (Av), four very different proteins in terms of size, shape, and isoelectric points. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), quartz crystal microbalance (QCM), and atomic force microscopy (AFM) were used to characterize the mixed polymer coatings, revealing the presence of both polymers in the layers, in variable proportions according to the chosen parameters. Protein adsorption at pH 7.4 and salt concentrations of 10−3
M was monitored by QCM. Lys and Av did not adsorb on the homo-coatings and the mixed coatings. The amount of HSA and Fb adsorbed decreased with increasing the PEO ratio or its molar mass in a grafting solution. It was demonstrated that HSA and Fb, which were adsorbed at pH 7.4 and at an ionic strength of 10−3
M, can be fully desorbed by rinsing with a sodium chloride solution at pH 9.0 and ionic strength 0.15 M from the mixed PEO5/PDMAEMA coatings with PEO/PDMAEMA mass ratios of 70/30, and 50/50, respectively. The results demonstrate that mixed PEO/PDMAEMA coatings allow protein adsorption to be finely tuned on solid surfaces.
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