Project Collection "Polyelectrolytes"

A project collection of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360).

Papers displayed on this page all arise from the same project. Editorial decisions were made independently of project staff and handled by the Editor-in-Chief or qualified Editorial Board members.

Editors

Dr. Christine Wandrey
Website
Collection Editor
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL SB ISIC-GE, CH C1 392, station 6, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
Interests: water-soluble polymers; polyelectrolytes; polyelectrolyte complexes; hydrogels; biomaterials; radical polymerization/copolymerization; characterization of charged macromolecule; analytical ultracentrifugation
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Ruth Freitag
Website
Collection Editor
Chair for Process Biotechnology, Faculty of Engineering Sciences, University of Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
Interests: stimuli-responsive; materials; bioconjugates; synthetic biodelivery systems; bioseparation engineering; scaffolds for tissue engineering; encapsulation; monolithic stationary phases for chromatography and electrochromatography
Dr. Ulrich Scheler
Website
Collection Editor
Head of teh Department Polyelectrolytes and Dispersions, Leibniz-Institut für Polymerforschung Dresden e.V., D-01069 Dresden, Germany
Interests: structure, dynamics and charge in complex polymer and polyelectrolytes systems magnetic resonance (NMR & EPR) including methods developments
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Project Overview

Dear Colleagues,

Polyelectrolytes are the subject of very active research and development in fields such as chemistry, physics, biology, medicine, materials science, food science, and nanotechnology. Polyelectrolyte properties are intrinsic, not only to a multitude of single macromolecules, but also to their organized structures and molecular assemblies. Biopolymers, such as proteins, DNA, and polysaccharides, which are available in almost unlimited quantity in nature, as well as many synthetic polymers, which are industrially produced on a large scale, belong to this fascinating class of polymers. The importance of polyelectrolyte research is best documented by the exponential annual increase of scientific publications dedicated to polyelectrolytes.

This Topical Collection of Polymers intends to serve as an interdisciplinary platform addressing all polyelectrolyte related aspects. Overcoming the hurdles of single research disciplines will be the major goal of this platform. Original articles reporting recent progress on polyelectrolyte related research from different disciplines and review papers highlighting in particular interdisciplinary aspects are both invited. Launched in 2015, this Topical Collection remains open for submissions. We are looking forward to receiving your paper at any time.

Dr. Christine Wandrey
Prof. Dr. Ruth Freitag
Dr. Ulrich Scheler
Collection Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the collection website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Polymers is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • polyelectrolyte synthesis, modification and functionalization
  • advanced analysis and characterization of polyelectrolytes and their assemblies
  • thermodynamics, solubility, and phase diagrams
  • polyelectrolytes in solution and at interfaces
  • theory and simulations
  • polyelectrolyte phenomena
  • assemblies and multilayers
  • complexes and particles
  • conformation and counterions: theory vs. experiment
  • natural polyelectrolytes
  • synthetic polyelectrolytes
  • hybrid materials
  • polyelectrolytes in food and cosmetics
  • polyelectrolytes for biomaterials and pharmaceuticals
  • polyelectrolytes for industrial and environmental processes

Related Special Issues

Published Papers (73 papers)

2020

Jump to: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2011, 2010

Open AccessReview
Strategies to Functionalize the Anionic Biopolymer Na-Alginate without Restricting Its Polyelectrolyte Properties
Polymers 2020, 12(4), 919; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12040919 - 15 Apr 2020
Abstract
The natural anionic polyelectrolyte alginate and its derivatives are of particular interest for pharmaceutical and biomedical applications. Most interesting for such applications are alginate hydrogels, which can be processed into various shapes, self-standing or at surfaces. Increasing efforts are underway to functionalize the [...] Read more.
The natural anionic polyelectrolyte alginate and its derivatives are of particular interest for pharmaceutical and biomedical applications. Most interesting for such applications are alginate hydrogels, which can be processed into various shapes, self-standing or at surfaces. Increasing efforts are underway to functionalize the alginate macromolecules prior to hydrogel formation in order to overcome the shortcomings of purely ionically cross-linked alginate hydrogels that are hindering the progress of several sophisticated biomedical applications. Particularly promising are derivatives of alginate, which allow simultaneous ionic and covalent cross-linking to improve the physical properties and add biological activity to the hydrogel. This review will report recent progress in alginate modification and functionalization with special focus on synthesis procedures, which completely conserve the ionic functionality of the carboxyl groups along the backbone. Recent advances in analytical techniques and instrumentation supported the goal-directed modification and functionalization. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Electrical Field-Assisted Gene Delivery from Polyelectrolyte Multilayers
Polymers 2020, 12(1), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12010133 - 06 Jan 2020
Abstract
To sustain gene delivery and elongate transgene expression, plasmid DNA and cationic nonviral vectors can be deposited through layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly to form polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEMs). Although these macromolecules can be released for transfection purposes, their entanglement only allows partial delivery. Therefore, how [...] Read more.
To sustain gene delivery and elongate transgene expression, plasmid DNA and cationic nonviral vectors can be deposited through layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly to form polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEMs). Although these macromolecules can be released for transfection purposes, their entanglement only allows partial delivery. Therefore, how to efficiently deliver immobilized genes from PEMs remains a challenge. In this study, we attempt to facilitate their delivery through the pretreatment of the external electrical field. Multilayers of polyethylenimine (PEI) and DNA were deposited onto conductive polypyrrole (PPy), which were placed in an aqueous environment to examine their release after electric field pretreatment. Only the electric field perpendicular to the substrate with constant voltage efficiently promoted the release of PEI and DNA from PEMs, and the higher potential resulted in the more releases which were enhanced with treatment time. The roughness of PEMs also increased after electric field treatment because the electrical field not only caused electrophoresis of polyelectrolytes and but also allowed electrochemical reaction on the PPy electrode. Finally, the released DNA and PEI were used for transfection. Polyplexes were successfully formed after electric field treatment, and the transfection efficiency was also improved, suggesting that this electric field pretreatment effectively assists gene delivery from PEMs and should be beneficial to regenerative medicine application. Full article
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2019

Jump to: 2020, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2011, 2010

Open AccessArticle
Enhanced Pervaporation Properties of PVA-Based Membranes Modified with Polyelectrolytes. Application to IPA Dehydration
Polymers 2020, 12(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12010014 - 19 Dec 2019
Abstract
In this work, dense and supported pervaporation polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)-based membranes modified with poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) and poly(sodium 4-styrenesulfonate)(PSS)/PAH top nanolayers were synthesized. Two main points were investigated: the role of the polyelectrolyte PAH on water selectivity of the selective polymer matrix and [...] Read more.
In this work, dense and supported pervaporation polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)-based membranes modified with poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) and poly(sodium 4-styrenesulfonate)(PSS)/PAH top nanolayers were synthesized. Two main points were investigated: the role of the polyelectrolyte PAH on water selectivity of the selective polymer matrix and the impact of the porous substrate based on polyacrylonitrile (PAN) and aromatic polysulfone amide (UPM-20®), used to get supported high-performance membranes. Various methods of analysis (fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), porosity, contact angles, ultrafiltration) were applied to study the developed membranes. Transport characteristics of the developed membranes were studied in isopropanol dehydration by pervaporation. Obtained results are discussed in the light of the structure and physicochemical characteristics of these PVA/PAH membranes and the types of porous substrate. It was shown that the PAN-supported membrane with the selective layer based on PVA/PAH modified by 10 polyelectrolyte PSS/PAH bilayers possessed ~4.5 times higher permeation flux with the same high selectivity level (99.9 wt % water in the permeate) for the dehydration of the isopropanol (20 wt % water) at 60 °C compared to the commercial analog PERVAPTM 1201. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Revealing Adsorption Behaviors of Amphoteric Polyacrylamide on Cellulose Fibers and Impact on Dry Strength of Fiber Networks
Polymers 2019, 11(11), 1886; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11111886 - 15 Nov 2019
Abstract
Amphoteric polyacrylamide (AmPAM) has been widely used in a variety of industrial areas and the adsorption behavior of AmPAM plays a crucial role in its applications. In this study, a series of AmPAMs with various molecular weights (MW) were synthesized; and their impact [...] Read more.
Amphoteric polyacrylamide (AmPAM) has been widely used in a variety of industrial areas and the adsorption behavior of AmPAM plays a crucial role in its applications. In this study, a series of AmPAMs with various molecular weights (MW) were synthesized; and their impact on dry strength of fiber networks or paper was assessed. The results showed that the optimal MW of AmPAM for strength enhancement ranged between 300 and 500 k. More importantly, the adsorption behaviors of three typical AmPAM samples on silica (model substrate) and cellulose surfaces were revealed using a quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) in situ and in real time. The adsorption dynamics of AmPAM and the conformation of the adlayers were further derived. The results indicated that a relatively high adsorption amount was achieved under the conditions of a high polymer concentration, a medium pH close to its isoelectric point (IEP), a mild ionic strength, and a high charged surface; whereas the MW of AmPAM had little effect on the equilibrium adsorption mass of AmPAM, but significantly affected the conformation of adsorbed layer on substrates. Based on the adsorption behaviors of AmPAM, the explanation of the best dry strength achieved in a narrow range of MW of AmPAM is proposed. It was concluded that the appropriate balance between bridging and flocculation, penetration into fiber pores, and conformation were only achieved in the optimal MW range of AmPAM. The findings obtained from in this work enable us to better understand the adsorption behaviors of polyampholyte, and provide a guideline on molecular design of AmPAM and its applications from both fundamental and practical points of view. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Synthesis, Characterisation and Biological Evaluation of Ampicillin–Chitosan–Polyanion Nanoparticles Produced by Ionic Gelation and Polyelectrolyte Complexation Assisted by High-Intensity Sonication
Polymers 2019, 11(11), 1758; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11111758 - 25 Oct 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Recently, one of the promising strategies to fight sensitive and resistant bacteria, and decrease the morbidity and mortality rates due to non-nosocomial infections, is to use antibiotic-loaded nanoparticles. In this study, ampicillin-loaded chitosan–polyanion nanoparticles were produced through the techniques of ionic gelation and [...] Read more.
Recently, one of the promising strategies to fight sensitive and resistant bacteria, and decrease the morbidity and mortality rates due to non-nosocomial infections, is to use antibiotic-loaded nanoparticles. In this study, ampicillin-loaded chitosan–polyanion nanoparticles were produced through the techniques of ionic gelation and polyelectrolyte complexation assisted by high-intensity sonication, using several crosslinking agents, including phytic acid (non-polymeric polyanion), sodium and potassium salts of poly(maleic acid-alt-ethylene) and poly(maleic acid-alt-octadecene) (polymeric polyanions). These nanoparticles were analysed and characterised in terms of particle size, polydispersity index, zeta potential and encapsulation efficiency. The stability of these nanosystems was carried out at temperatures of 4 and 40 °C, and the antimicrobial effect was determined by the broth microdilution method using sensitive and resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains. The results reveal that most of the nanosystems have sizes <220 nm, positive zeta potential values and a monodisperse population, except for the nanoparticles crosslinked with PAM-18 polyanions. The nanometric systems exhibited adequate stability preventing aggregation and revealed a two-fold increase in antimicrobial activity when compared with free ampicillin. This study demonstrates the potential application of synthesised nanoparticles in the field of medicine, especially for treating infections caused by pathogenic S. aureus strains. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Employing of Trukhan Model to Estimate Ion Transport Parameters in PVA Based Solid Polymer Electrolyte
Polymers 2019, 11(10), 1694; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11101694 - 16 Oct 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
In the current paper, ion transport parameters in poly (vinyl alcohol) (PVA) based solid polymer electrolyte were examined using Trukhan model successfully. The desired amount of lithium trifluoromethanesulfonate (LiCF3SO3) was dissolved in PVA host polymer to synthesis of solid [...] Read more.
In the current paper, ion transport parameters in poly (vinyl alcohol) (PVA) based solid polymer electrolyte were examined using Trukhan model successfully. The desired amount of lithium trifluoromethanesulfonate (LiCF3SO3) was dissolved in PVA host polymer to synthesis of solid polymer electrolytes (SPEs). Ion transport parameters such as mobility (μ), diffusion coefficient (D), and charge carrier number density (n) are investigated in detail using impedance spectroscopy. The data results from impedance plots illustrated a decrement of bulk resistance with an increase in temperature. Using electrical equivalent circuits (EEC), electrical impedance plots (ZivsZr) are fitted at various temperatures. The results of impedance study demonstrated that the resistivity of the sample decreases with increasing temperature. The decrease of resistance or impedance with increasing temperature distinguished from Bode plots. The dielectric constant and dielectric loss values increased with an increase in temperature. The loss tangent peaks shifted to higher frequency region and the intensity increased with an increase in temperature. In this contribution, ion transport as a complicated subject in polymer physics is studied. The conductivity versus reciprocal of temperature was found to obey Arrhenius behavior type. The ion transport mechanism is discussed from the tanδ spectra. The ion transport parameters at ambient temperature are found to be 9 × 10−8 cm2/s, 0.8 × 1017 cm−3, and 3 × 10−6 cm2/Vs for D, n, andμ respectively. All these parameters have shown increasing as temperature increased. The electric modulus parameters are studied in an attempt to understand the relaxation dynamics and to clarify the relaxation process and ion dynamics relationship. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Chain Length of Chitosan Oligosaccharides on Solution Properties and Complexation with siRNA
Polymers 2019, 11(8), 1236; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11081236 - 25 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
In the context of gene delivery, chitosan has been widely used as a safe and effective polycation to complex DNA, RNA and more recently, siRNA. However, much less attention has been paid to chitosan oligosaccharides (COS) despite their biological properties. This study proposed [...] Read more.
In the context of gene delivery, chitosan has been widely used as a safe and effective polycation to complex DNA, RNA and more recently, siRNA. However, much less attention has been paid to chitosan oligosaccharides (COS) despite their biological properties. This study proposed to carry out a physicochemical study of COS varying in degree of polymerization (DP) from 5 to 50, both from the point of view of the solution properties and the complexing behavior with siRNA. The main parameters studied as a function of DP were the apparent pKa, the solubility versus pH, the binding affinity with siRNA and the colloidal properties of complexes. Some parameters, like the pKa or the binding enthalpy with siRNA, showed a marked transition from DP 5 to DP 13, suggesting that electrostatic properties of COS vary considerably in this range of DP. The colloidal properties of siRNA/COS complexes were affected in a different way by the COS chain length. In particular, COS of relatively high DP (≥50) were required to form small complex particles with good stability. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Protein–Polyelectrolyte Complexes and Micellar Assemblies
Polymers 2019, 11(7), 1097; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11071097 - 28 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
In this review, we highlight the recent progress in our understanding of the structure, properties and applications of protein–polyelectrolyte complexes in both bulk and micellar assemblies. Protein–polyelectrolyte complexes form the basis of the genetic code, enable facile protein purification, and have emerged as [...] Read more.
In this review, we highlight the recent progress in our understanding of the structure, properties and applications of protein–polyelectrolyte complexes in both bulk and micellar assemblies. Protein–polyelectrolyte complexes form the basis of the genetic code, enable facile protein purification, and have emerged as enterprising candidates for simulating protocellular environments and as efficient enzymatic bioreactors. Such complexes undergo self-assembly in bulk due to a combined influence of electrostatic interactions and entropy gains from counterion release. Diversifying the self-assembly by incorporation of block polyelectrolytes has further enabled fabrication of protein–polyelectrolyte complex micelles that are multifunctional carriers for therapeutic targeted delivery of proteins such as enzymes and antibodies. We discuss research efforts focused on the structure, properties and applications of protein–polyelectrolyte complexes in both bulk and micellar assemblies, along with the influences of amphoteric nature of proteins accompanying patchy distribution of charges leading to unique phenomena including multiple complexation windows and complexation on the wrong side of the isoelectric point. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Structure and Rheology of Polyelectrolyte Complexes in the Presence of a Hydrogen-Bonded Co-Solvent
Polymers 2019, 11(6), 1053; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11061053 - 17 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Intermolecular interactions as well as macromolecular conformation affect the rheological and microstructural properties of polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs) solutions. The properties of semi-dilute solutions of weakly charged PECs can be controlled by the degree of ionization and solvent composition. In this work, we examined [...] Read more.
Intermolecular interactions as well as macromolecular conformation affect the rheological and microstructural properties of polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs) solutions. The properties of semi-dilute solutions of weakly charged PECs can be controlled by the degree of ionization and solvent composition. In this work, we examined the effect of ethanol as a co-solvent on PECs composed of poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) at low pH. The aqueous PECs solution was turbid, indicating formation of large aggregates, whereas PECs solution in water/ethanol (60:40 w/w) was transparent, implying no aggregation, and demonstrated higher relative viscosity than the aqueous solution, implying pronounced network formation. Imaging PECs solution by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) demonstrated aggregation, whereas the solution prepared with the mixed solvent revealed almost no phase contrast. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) of PECs in the aqueous solution indicated the presence of aggregates, while PECs in mixed solvent demonstrated a swelled macromolecular conformation with diminished aggregation. PECs with no ionic interactions in the mixed solvent assumes a homogenous network structure, which enables PECs solution processing by electrospinning. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Intrinsic Disorder-Based Emergence in Cellular Biology: Physiological and Pathological Liquid-Liquid Phase Transitions in Cells
Polymers 2019, 11(6), 990; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11060990 - 04 Jun 2019
Cited by 9
Abstract
The visible outcome of liquid-liquid phase transitions (LLPTs) in cells is the formation and disintegration of various proteinaceous membrane-less organelles (PMLOs). Although LLPTs and related PMLOs have been observed in living cells for over 200 years, the physiological functions of these transitions (also [...] Read more.
The visible outcome of liquid-liquid phase transitions (LLPTs) in cells is the formation and disintegration of various proteinaceous membrane-less organelles (PMLOs). Although LLPTs and related PMLOs have been observed in living cells for over 200 years, the physiological functions of these transitions (also known as liquid-liquid phase separation, LLPS) are just starting to be understood. While unveiling the functionality of these transitions is important, they have come into light more recently due to the association of abnormal LLPTs with various pathological conditions. In fact, several maladies, such as various cancers, different neurodegenerative diseases, and cardiovascular diseases, are known to be associated with either aberrant LLPTs or some pathological transformations within the resultant PMLOs. Here, we will highlight both the physiological functions of cellular liquid-liquid phase transitions as well as the pathological consequences produced through both dysregulated biogenesis of PMLOs and the loss of their dynamics. We will also discuss the potential downstream toxic effects of proteins that are involved in pathological formations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Upper Critical Solution Temperature (UCST) Behavior of Coacervate of Cationic Protamine and Multivalent Anions
Polymers 2019, 11(4), 691; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11040691 - 16 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Complex coacervation is an emerging liquid/liquid phase separation (LLPS) phenomenon that behaves as a membrane-less organelle in living cells. Yet while one of the critical factors for complex coacervation is temperature, little analysis and research has been devoted to the temperature effect on [...] Read more.
Complex coacervation is an emerging liquid/liquid phase separation (LLPS) phenomenon that behaves as a membrane-less organelle in living cells. Yet while one of the critical factors for complex coacervation is temperature, little analysis and research has been devoted to the temperature effect on complex coacervation. Here, we performed a complex coacervation of cationic protamine and multivalent anions (citrate and tripolyphosphate (TPP)). Both mixtures (i.e., protamine/citrate and protamine/TPP) underwent coacervation in an aqueous solution, while a mixture of protamine and sodium chloride did not. Interestingly, the complex coacervation of protamine and multivalent anions showed upper critical solution temperature (UCST) behavior, and the coacervation of protamine and multivalent anions was reversible with solution temperature changes. The large asymmetry in molecular weight between positively charged protamine (~4 kDa) and the multivalent anions (<0.4 kDa) and strong electrostatic interactions between positively charged guanidine residues in protamine and multivalent anions were likely to contribute to UCST behavior in this coacervation system. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Polyelectrolyte Complexes of Natural Polymers and Their Biomedical Applications
Polymers 2019, 11(4), 672; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11040672 - 12 Apr 2019
Cited by 7
Abstract
Polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs), composed of natural and biodegradable polymers, (such as positively charged chitosan or protamine and negatively charged glycosaminoglycans (GAGs)) have attracted attention as hydrogels, films, hydrocolloids, and nano-/micro-particles (N/MPs) for biomedical applications. This is due to their biocompatibility and biological activities. [...] Read more.
Polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs), composed of natural and biodegradable polymers, (such as positively charged chitosan or protamine and negatively charged glycosaminoglycans (GAGs)) have attracted attention as hydrogels, films, hydrocolloids, and nano-/micro-particles (N/MPs) for biomedical applications. This is due to their biocompatibility and biological activities. These PECs have been used as drug and cell delivery carriers, hemostats, wound dressings, tissue adhesives, and scaffolds for tissue engineering. In addition to their comprehensive review, this review describes our original studies and provides an overview of the characteristics of chitosan-based hydrogel, including photo-cross-linkable chitosan hydrogel and hydrocolloidal PECs, as well as molecular-weight heparin (LH)/positively charged protamine (P) N/MPs. These are generated by electrostatic interactions between negatively charged LH and positively charged P together with their potential biomedical applications. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Aqueous Liquid-Liquid Phase Separation of Natural and Synthetic Polyguanidiniums
Polymers 2019, 11(4), 649; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11040649 - 09 Apr 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Protamines are natural polyguanidiniums, arginine(R)-rich proteins involved in the compaction of chromatin during vertebrate spermatogenesis. Salmine, a protamine isolated from salmon sperm, contains 65 mol% R residues, with positively charged guanidino (Gdm+) sidechains, and no other amino acids with ionizable or [...] Read more.
Protamines are natural polyguanidiniums, arginine(R)-rich proteins involved in the compaction of chromatin during vertebrate spermatogenesis. Salmine, a protamine isolated from salmon sperm, contains 65 mol% R residues, with positively charged guanidino (Gdm+) sidechains, and no other amino acids with ionizable or aromatic sidechains. Salmine sulfate solutions undergo liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) with a concentration-dependent upper critical solution temperature (UCST). The condensed liquid phase comprises 50 wt % water and >600 mg·mL−1 salmine with a constant 1:2 ratio of sulfate (SO42−) to Gdm+. Isothermal titration calorimetry, titrating Na2SO4 into salmine chloride above and below the UCST, allowed isolation of exothermic sulfate binding to salmine chloride from subsequent endothermic condensation and exothermic phase separation events. Synthetic random polyacrylate analogs of salmine, with 3-guanidinopropyl sidechains, displayed similar counterion dependent phase behavior, demonstrating that the LLPS of polyguanidiniums does not depend upon subunit sequence or polymer backbone chirality, and was due entirely to Gdm+ sidechain interactions. The results provide experimental evidence for like-charge pairing of Gdm+ sidechains, and an experimental approach for further characterizing these interactions. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Macro- and Microphase Separated Protein-Polyelectrolyte Complexes: Design Parameters and Current Progress
Polymers 2019, 11(4), 578; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11040578 - 29 Mar 2019
Cited by 7
Abstract
Protein-containing polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs) are a diverse class of materials, composed of two or more oppositely charged polyelectrolytes that condense and phase separate near overall charge neutrality. Such phase-separation can take on a variety of morphologies from macrophase separated liquid condensates, to solid [...] Read more.
Protein-containing polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs) are a diverse class of materials, composed of two or more oppositely charged polyelectrolytes that condense and phase separate near overall charge neutrality. Such phase-separation can take on a variety of morphologies from macrophase separated liquid condensates, to solid precipitates, to monodispersed spherical micelles. In this review, we present an overview of recent advances in protein-containing PECs, with an overall goal of defining relevant design parameters for macro- and microphase separated PECs. For both classes of PECs, the influence of protein characteristics, such as surface charge and patchiness, co-polyelectrolyte characteristics, such as charge density and structure, and overall solution characteristics, such as salt concentration and pH, are considered. After overall design features are established, potential applications in food processing, biosensing, drug delivery, and protein purification are discussed and recent characterization techniques for protein-containing PECs are highlighted. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Ferrocene-Modified Polyelectrolyte Film-Coated Electrode and Its Application in Glucose Detection
Polymers 2019, 11(3), 551; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11030551 - 22 Mar 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
A polyelectrolyte film-coated electrode for the quantitative detection of glucose was reported. Carbon nanotubes, graphene oxide and polyelectrolyte with a ferrocenyl group were used to modify an enzyme electrode to facilitate the electron transfer between glucose oxidase and the electrode. Cyclic voltammetry and [...] Read more.
A polyelectrolyte film-coated electrode for the quantitative detection of glucose was reported. Carbon nanotubes, graphene oxide and polyelectrolyte with a ferrocenyl group were used to modify an enzyme electrode to facilitate the electron transfer between glucose oxidase and the electrode. Cyclic voltammetry and amperometric methods were adopted to investigate the effects of different polyelectrolytes and carbon nanomaterials on the electrochemical properties of enzyme electrodes. The results indicate that the ferrocenyl groups on a polyelectrolyte skeleton act as a mediator between the redox center of glucose oxidase and the electrode, which efficiently enhances the electron transfer between a glassy carbon electrode and glucose oxidase. The calibration curve of the sensor shows a linear range from 0.2 to 5 mM for glucose response. The sensor can achieve 95% of the steady-state current within 10 s. The electrodes also present high operational stability and long-term storage stability. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Gelatin Films Modified with Acidic and Polyelectrolyte Polymers—Material Selection for Soft Gastroresistant Capsules
Polymers 2019, 11(2), 338; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11020338 - 15 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The following investigation comprised the formation of acid-resistant gelatin-based films, intended for future use in soft-capsule technology. Such film compositions were obtained by including nonionized forms of acid-insoluble polymers in a gelatin-based film-forming mixture. The selected films were additionally modified with small amounts [...] Read more.
The following investigation comprised the formation of acid-resistant gelatin-based films, intended for future use in soft-capsule technology. Such film compositions were obtained by including nonionized forms of acid-insoluble polymers in a gelatin-based film-forming mixture. The selected films were additionally modified with small amounts of anionic polysaccharides that have potential to interact with gelatin, forming polyelectrolyte complexes. The obtained film compositions were subjected to, e.g., disintegration tests, adhesiveness tests, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and a transparency study. As a result of the performed study, some commercial enteric polymers (acrylates), as well as cellulose acetate phthalate, were selected as components that have the ability to coalesce and form a continuous phase within a gelatin film. The use of a small amount (1.5%) of additional gelling polymers improved the rheological characteristics and adhesive properties of the obtained films, with ί-carrageenan and gellan gum appearing to be the most beneficial. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Upper Critical Solution Temperature (UCST) Behavior of Polystyrene-Based Polyampholytes in Aqueous Solution
Polymers 2019, 11(2), 265; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11020265 - 04 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Strong polyampholytes comprising cationic vinylbenzyl trimethylammonium chloride (VBTAC) bearing a pendant quaternary ammonium group and anionic sodium p-styrenesulfonate (NaSS) bearing a pendant sulfonate group were prepared via reversible addition-fragmentation chain-transfer polymerization. The resultant polymers are labelled P(VBTAC/NaSS)n, where n indicates [...] Read more.
Strong polyampholytes comprising cationic vinylbenzyl trimethylammonium chloride (VBTAC) bearing a pendant quaternary ammonium group and anionic sodium p-styrenesulfonate (NaSS) bearing a pendant sulfonate group were prepared via reversible addition-fragmentation chain-transfer polymerization. The resultant polymers are labelled P(VBTAC/NaSS)n, where n indicates the degree of polymerization (n = 20 or 97). The percentage VBTAC content in P(VBTAC/NaSS)n is always about 50 mol%, as revealed by 1H NMR measurements, meaning that P(VBTAC/NaSS)n is a close to stoichiometrically charge-neutralized polymer. Although P(VBTAC/NaSS)n cannot dissolve in pure water at room temperature, the addition of NaCl or heating solubilizes the polymers. Furthermore, P(VBTAC/NaSS)n exhibits upper critical solution temperature (UCST) behavior in aqueous NaCl solutions. The UCST is shifted to higher temperatures by increasing the polymer concentration and molecular weight, and by decreasing the NaCl concentration. The UCST behavior was measured ranging the polymer concentrations from 0.5 to 5.0 g/L. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Layer-by-Layer Assembly and Electrochemical Study of Alizarin Red S-Based Thin Films
Polymers 2019, 11(1), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11010165 - 18 Jan 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Electroactive organic dyes incorporated in layer-by-layer (LbL) assemblies are of great interest for a variety of applications. In this paper, Alizarin Red S (ARS), an electroactive anthraquinone dye, is employed to construct LbL (BPEI/ARS)n films with branched poly(ethylene imine) (BPEI) as the [...] Read more.
Electroactive organic dyes incorporated in layer-by-layer (LbL) assemblies are of great interest for a variety of applications. In this paper, Alizarin Red S (ARS), an electroactive anthraquinone dye, is employed to construct LbL (BPEI/ARS)n films with branched poly(ethylene imine) (BPEI) as the complementary polymer. Unconventional LbL methods, including co-adsorption of ARS and poly(4-styrene sulfonate) (PSS) with BPEI to assemble (BPEI/(ARS+PSS))n, as well as pre-complexation of ARS with BPEI and further assembly with PSS to fabricate ((BPEI+ARS)/PSS)n, are designed for investigation and comparison. Film growth patterns, UV–Vis spectra and surface morphology of the three types of LbL assemblies are measured and compared to reveal the formation mechanism of the LbL films. Electrochemical properties including cyclic voltammetry and spectroelectrochemistry of (BPEI/ARS)120, (BPEI/(ARS+PSS))120 and ((BPEI+ARS)/PSS)120 films are studied, and the results show a slight color change due to the redox reaction of ARS. ((BPEI+ARS)/PSS)120 shows the best stability among the three samples. It is concluded that the manner of dye- incorporation has a great effect on the electrochemical properties of the resultant films. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Polyelectrolyte Complexation of Oligonucleotides by Charged Hydrophobic—Neutral Hydrophilic Block Copolymers
Polymers 2019, 11(1), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11010083 - 07 Jan 2019
Cited by 9
Abstract
Polyelectrolyte complex micelles (PCMs, core-shell nanoparticles formed by complexation of a polyelectrolyte with a polyelectrolyte-hydrophilic neutral block copolymer) offer a solution to the critical problem of delivering therapeutic nucleic acids, Despite this, few systematic studies have been conducted on how parameters such as [...] Read more.
Polyelectrolyte complex micelles (PCMs, core-shell nanoparticles formed by complexation of a polyelectrolyte with a polyelectrolyte-hydrophilic neutral block copolymer) offer a solution to the critical problem of delivering therapeutic nucleic acids, Despite this, few systematic studies have been conducted on how parameters such as polycation charge density, hydrophobicity, and choice of charged group influence PCM properties, despite evidence that these strongly influence the complexation behavior of polyelectrolyte homopolymers. In this article, we report a comparison of oligonucleotide PCMs and polyelectrolyte complexes formed by poly(lysine) and poly((vinylbenzyl) trimethylammonium) (PVBTMA), a styrenic polycation with comparatively higher charge density, increased hydrophobicity, and a permanent positive charge. All of these differences have been individually suggested to provide increased complex stability, but we find that PVBTMA in fact complexes oligonucleotides more weakly than does poly(lysine), as measured by stability versus added salt. Using small angle X-ray scattering and electron microscopy, we find that PCMs formed from both cationic blocks exhibit very similar structure-property relationships, with PCM radius determined by the cationic block size and shape controlled by the hybridization state of the oligonucleotides. These observations narrow the design space for optimizing therapeutic PCMs and provide new insights into the rich polymer physics of polyelectrolyte self-assembly. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Protein–Polyelectrolyte Interaction: Thermodynamic Analysis Based on the Titration Method
Polymers 2019, 11(1), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11010082 - 07 Jan 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
This review discussed the mechanisms including theories and binding stages concerning the protein–polyelectrolyte (PE) interaction, as well as the applications for both complexation and coacervation states of protein–PE pairs. In particular, this review focused on the applications of titration techniques, that is, turbidimetric [...] Read more.
This review discussed the mechanisms including theories and binding stages concerning the protein–polyelectrolyte (PE) interaction, as well as the applications for both complexation and coacervation states of protein–PE pairs. In particular, this review focused on the applications of titration techniques, that is, turbidimetric titration and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC), in understanding the protein–PE binding process. To be specific, by providing thermodynamic information such as pHc, pHφ, binding constant, entropy, and enthalpy change, titration techniques could shed light on the binding affinity, binding stoichiometry, and driving force of the protein–PE interaction, which significantly guide the applications by utilization of these interactions. Recent reports concerning interactions between proteins and different types of polyelectrolytes, that is, linear polyelectrolytes and polyelectrolyte modified nanoparticles, are summarized with their binding differences systematically discussed and compared based on the two major titration techniques. We believe this short review could provide valuable insight in the understanding of the structure–property relationship and the design of applied biomedical PE-based systems with optimal performance. Full article
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2018

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Open AccessReview
Intermolecular Interactions in Polyelectrolyte and Surfactant Complexes in Solution
Polymers 2019, 11(1), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11010051 - 31 Dec 2018
Cited by 14
Abstract
Polyelectrolytes are an important class of polymeric materials and are increasingly used in complex industrial formulations. A core use of these materials is in mixtures with surfactants, where a combination of hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions drives unique solution behavior and structure formation. In [...] Read more.
Polyelectrolytes are an important class of polymeric materials and are increasingly used in complex industrial formulations. A core use of these materials is in mixtures with surfactants, where a combination of hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions drives unique solution behavior and structure formation. In this review, we apply a molecular level perspective to the broad literature on polyelectrolyte-surfactant complexes, discussing explicitly the hydrophobic and electrostatic interaction contributions to polyelectrolyte surfactant complexes (PESCs), as well as the interplay between the two molecular interaction types. These interactions are sensitive to a variety of solution conditions, such as pH, ionic strength, mixing procedure, charge density, etc. and these parameters can readily be used to control the concentration at which structures form as well as the type of structure in the bulk solution. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Exploring Structure–Property Relationships of GAGs to Tailor ECM-Mimicking Hydrogels
Polymers 2018, 10(12), 1376; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10121376 - 11 Dec 2018
Abstract
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are a class of linear polysaccharides that are ubiquitous in the extracellular matrix (ECM) and on cell surfaces. Due to their key role in development, homeostasis, pathogenesis, and regeneration, GAGs are increasingly used in the design of ECM-mimicking hydrogels to stimulate [...] Read more.
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are a class of linear polysaccharides that are ubiquitous in the extracellular matrix (ECM) and on cell surfaces. Due to their key role in development, homeostasis, pathogenesis, and regeneration, GAGs are increasingly used in the design of ECM-mimicking hydrogels to stimulate tissue formation and regenerative processes via specifically orchestrated cell-instructive signals. These applications first and foremost build on the ability of GAGs to effectively bind, protect, and release morphogens. The specificity and strength of morphogen-GAG interactions are largely governed by the number and spatial distribution of negatively charged sulfate groups carried by GAGs. Herein, we summarize a mean-field approach to quantify the density of ionizable groups, GAG concentration, and cross-linking degree of GAG-containing hydrogels on the basis of microslit electrokinetic experiments. We further present and discuss a continuum model of mucosa that accounts for charge regulation by glycan-ion pairing in biological contexts and under conditions of macromolecular crowding. Finally, we discuss the modulation of the morphogen binding and transport in GAG hydrogels by selective desulfation of the GAG component. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Separation and Characterization of Highly Charged Polyelectrolytes Using Free-Solution Capillary Electrophoresis
Polymers 2018, 10(12), 1331; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10121331 - 02 Dec 2018
Abstract
The characterization of statistical copolymers of various charge densities remains an important and challenging analytical issue. Indeed, the polyelectrolyte (PE) effective electrophoretic mobility tends to level off above a certain charge density, due to the occurrence of Manning counterion condensation. Surprisingly, we demonstrate [...] Read more.
The characterization of statistical copolymers of various charge densities remains an important and challenging analytical issue. Indeed, the polyelectrolyte (PE) effective electrophoretic mobility tends to level off above a certain charge density, due to the occurrence of Manning counterion condensation. Surprisingly, we demonstrate in this work that it is possible to get highly resolutive separations of charged PE using free-solution capillary electrophoresis, even above the critical value predicted by the Manning counterion condensation theory. Full separation of nine statistical poly(acrylamide-co-2-acrylamido-2-methylpropanesulfonate) polymers of different charge densities varying between 3% and 100% was obtained by adjusting the ionic strength of the background electrolyte (BGE) in counter electroosmotic mode. Distributions of the chemical charge density could be obtained for the nine PE samples, showing a strong asymmetry of the distribution for the highest-charged PE. This asymmetry can be explained by the different reactivity ratios during the copolymerization. To shed more light on the separation mechanism, effective and apparent selectivities were determined by a systematic study and modeling of the electrophoretic mobility dependence according to the ionic strength. It is demonstrated that the increase in resolution with increasing BGE ionic strength is not only due to a closer matching of the electroosmotic flow magnitude with the PE electrophoretic effective mobility, but also to an increase of the dependence of the PE effective mobility according to the charge density. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Switchable Release of Bone Morphogenetic Protein from Thermoresponsive Poly(NIPAM-co-DMAEMA)/Cellulose Sulfate Particle Coatings
Polymers 2018, 10(12), 1314; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10121314 - 27 Nov 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Thermoresponsive coatings of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-DMAEMA)/cellulose sulfate (PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS) complexes are reported eluting bone-morphogenetic-protein-2 (BMP-2) on demand relevant for implant assisted local bone healing. PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS dispersions contained colloid particles with hydrodynamic radii RH = 170–288 nm at T = 25 °C [...] Read more.
Thermoresponsive coatings of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-DMAEMA)/cellulose sulfate (PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS) complexes are reported eluting bone-morphogenetic-protein-2 (BMP-2) on demand relevant for implant assisted local bone healing. PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS dispersions contained colloid particles with hydrodynamic radii RH = 170–288 nm at T = 25 °C shrinking to RH = 74–103 nm at T = 60 °C. Obviously, PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS undergoes volume phase transition (VPT) analogously to pure PNIPAM, when critical VPT temperature (VPTT) is exceeded. Temperature dependent turbidity measurements revealed broad VPT and VPTT 47 °C for PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS colloid dispersions at pH = 7.0. FTIR spectroscopy on thermoresponsive PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS particle coatings at germanium model substrates under HEPES buffer indicated both wet-adhesiveness and VPT behavior based on diagnostic band intensity increases with temperature. From respective temperature courses empirical VPTT ≈ 42 °C for PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS coatings at pH = 7.0 were found, which were comparable to VPTT found for respective dispersions. Finally, the PNIPAM-DMAEMA/CS coatings were loaded with BMP-2 and model protein papain (PAP). Time dependent FTIR spectroscopic measurements showed, that for T = 37 °C there was a relative protein release of ≈30% for PAP and ≈10% for BMP-2 after 24 h, which did not increase further. Heating to T = 42 °C for PAP and to 47 °C for BMP-2 further secondary protein release of ≈20% after 24 h was found, respectively, interesting for clinical applications. BMP-2 eluted even at 47 °C was found to be still biologically active. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of the Surface Hydrophobicity Degree on the In Vitro Release of Polar and Non-Polar Drugs from Polyelectrolyte Matrix Tablets
Polymers 2018, 10(12), 1313; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10121313 - 27 Nov 2018
Abstract
This work is the continuation of a series of studies focused on establishing the relationship between the surface thermodynamic properties of polyelectrolyte matrix tablets and drug release mechanisms. In this case, two model drugs with different polarity features, such as carbamazepine (non-polar) and [...] Read more.
This work is the continuation of a series of studies focused on establishing the relationship between the surface thermodynamic properties of polyelectrolyte matrix tablets and drug release mechanisms. In this case, two model drugs with different polarity features, such as carbamazepine (non-polar) and metoprolol succinate (polar) were used in combination with polymeric material hydroxypropyl-methyl cellulose (HPMC) and two polyelectrolytes derived from maleic anhydride corresponding to the sodium salts of poly(maleic acid-alt-ethylene) and poly(maleic acid-alt-octadecene) named PAM-0Na and PAM-18Na, respectively. The polymers were obtained and characterized as reported previously. Surface studies were performed by the sessile drop method, whilst the surface free energy was determined through Owens, Wendt, Rable and Kaeble (OWRK) semi-empirical model. By contrast, the drug release studies were performed by in vitro dissolution tests, where data were analyzed through dissolution efficiency. The results showed that, depending on the drug polarity, type and polymer proportion, surface properties and drug release processes are significantly affected. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Design of Oligonucleotide Carriers: Importance of Polyamine Chain Length
Polymers 2018, 10(12), 1297; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10121297 - 23 Nov 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Amine containing polymers are extensively studied as special carriers for short-chain RNA (13–25 nucleotides), which are applied as gene silencing agents in gene therapy of various diseases including cancer. Elaboration of the oligonucleotide carriers requires knowledge about peculiarities of the oligonucleotide–polymeric amine interaction. [...] Read more.
Amine containing polymers are extensively studied as special carriers for short-chain RNA (13–25 nucleotides), which are applied as gene silencing agents in gene therapy of various diseases including cancer. Elaboration of the oligonucleotide carriers requires knowledge about peculiarities of the oligonucleotide–polymeric amine interaction. The critical length of the interacting chains is an important parameter which allows us to design sophisticated constructions containing oligonucleotide binding segments, solubilizing, protective and aiming parts. We studied interactions of (TCAG)n, n = 1–6 DNA oligonucleotides with polyethylenimine and poly(N-(3-((3-(dimethylamino)propyl)(methyl)amino)propyl)-N-methylacrylamide). The critical length for oligonucleotides in interaction with polymeric amines is 8–12 units and complexation at these length can be accompanied by “all-or-nothing” effects. New dimethylacrylamide based polymers with grafted polyamine chains were obtained and studied in complexation with DNA and RNA oligonucleotides. The most effective interaction and transfection activity into A549 cancer cells and silencing efficiency against vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was found for a sample with average number of nitrogens in polyamine chain equal to 27, i.e., for a sample in which all grafted chains are longer than the critical length for polymeric amine–oligonucleotide complexation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Conformation Study of Dual Stimuli-Responsive Core-Shell Diblock Polymer Brushes
Polymers 2018, 10(10), 1084; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10101084 - 30 Sep 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Stimuli-responsive nanoparticles are among the most popular research topics. In this study, two types of core-shell (polystyrene with a photoiniferter (PSV) as the core and diblock as the shell) polymer brushes ([email protected]b-PAA and [email protected]b-PNIPA) were designed and prepared using [...] Read more.
Stimuli-responsive nanoparticles are among the most popular research topics. In this study, two types of core-shell (polystyrene with a photoiniferter (PSV) as the core and diblock as the shell) polymer brushes ([email protected]b-PAA and [email protected]b-PNIPA) were designed and prepared using surface-initiated photoiniferter-mediated polymerization (SI-PIMP). Moreover, their pH- and temperature-stimuli responses were explored by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and turbidimeter under various conditions. The results showed that the conformational change was determined on the basis of the competition among electrostatic repulsion, hydrophobic interaction, hydrogen bonding, and steric hindrance, which was also confirmed by protein adsorption experiments. These results are not only helpful for the design and synthesis of stimuli-responsive polymer brushes but also shed light on controlled protein immobilization under mild conditions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sulfonated Poly(Arylene Ether Sulfone) and Perfluorosulfonic Acid Composite Membranes Containing Perfluoropolyether Grafted Graphene Oxide for Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell Applications
Polymers 2018, 10(6), 569; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10060569 - 23 May 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
Sulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone) (SPAES) and perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) composite membranes were prepared using perfluoropolyether grafted graphene oxide (PFPE-GO) as a reinforcing filler for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) applications. PFPE-GO was obtained by grafting poly(hexafluoropropylene oxide) having a carboxylic acid end [...] Read more.
Sulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone) (SPAES) and perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) composite membranes were prepared using perfluoropolyether grafted graphene oxide (PFPE-GO) as a reinforcing filler for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) applications. PFPE-GO was obtained by grafting poly(hexafluoropropylene oxide) having a carboxylic acid end group onto the surface of GO via ring opening reaction between the carboxylic acid group in poly(hexafluoropropylene oxide) and the epoxide groups in GO, using 4-dimethylaminopyridine as a base catalyst. Both SPAES and PFSA composite membranes containing PFPE-GO showed much improved mechanical strength and dimensional stability, compared to each linear SPAES and PFSA membrane, respectively. The enhanced mechanical strength and dimensional stability of composite membranes can be ascribed to the homogeneous dispersion of rigid conjugated carbon units in GO through the increased interfacial interactions between PFPE-GO and SPAES/PFSA matrices. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Counterion Valence on Conformational Behavior of Spherical Polyelectrolyte Brushes Confined between Two Parallel Walls
Polymers 2018, 10(4), 363; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10040363 - 24 Mar 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
We study the conformational behavior of spherical polyelectrolyte brushes in the presence of monovalent and trivalent counterions in a confined environment. The confinement is exerted by two parallel walls on the brushes. The enhancement of the confinement induces the extension of grafted chains. [...] Read more.
We study the conformational behavior of spherical polyelectrolyte brushes in the presence of monovalent and trivalent counterions in a confined environment. The confinement is exerted by two parallel walls on the brushes. The enhancement of the confinement induces the extension of grafted chains. For the monovalent case, the increase of the charge fraction leads to extended brush conformation for different slit width (distance between two walls) but collapsed brush in the presence of trivalent counterions is observed. The confinement does not affect electrostatic correlation between trivalent counterions and charged monomers. However, it was found that narrow slit width contributes to stronger electrostatic correlation for the monovalent case. This is because more monovalent counterions are inside the brush at strong confinement, but almost all trivalent counterions are trapped into the brush independently of the slit width. The diffusion of counterions under the confinement is related to the electrostatic correlation. Our simulations also reveal that the brush thickness depends on the slit width nonlinearly. Full article
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2017

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Open AccessArticle
Hydrophilic Polyelectrolyte Multilayers Improve the ELISA System: Antibody Enrichment and Blocking Free
Polymers 2017, 9(2), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym9020051 - 12 Feb 2017
Cited by 6
Abstract
In this study, polyelectrolyte multilayers were fabricated on a polystyrene (PS) plate using a Layer-by-Layer (LbL) self-assembly technique. The resulting functional platform showed improved performance compared with conventional enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) systems. Poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride) (PDDA) and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) were used as [...] Read more.
In this study, polyelectrolyte multilayers were fabricated on a polystyrene (PS) plate using a Layer-by-Layer (LbL) self-assembly technique. The resulting functional platform showed improved performance compared with conventional enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) systems. Poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride) (PDDA) and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) were used as cationic and anionic polyelectrolytes. On the negatively-charged (PDDA/PAA)3 polyelectrolyte multilayers the hydrophilic PAA surface could efficiently decrease the magnitude of the noise signal, by inhibiting nonspecific adsorption even without blocking reagent adsorption. Moreover, the (PDDA/PAA)3 substrate covalently immobilized the primary antibody, greatly increasing the amount of primary antibody adsorption and enhancing the specific detection signal compared with a conventional PS plate. The calibration curve of the (PDDA/PAA)3 substrate showed a wide linear range, for concentrations from 0.033 to 33 nM, a large specific signal change, and a detection limit of 33 pM, even though the conventional blocking reagent adsorption step was omitted. The (PDDA/PAA)3 substrate provided a high-performance ELISA system with a simple fabrication process and high sensitivity; the system presented here shows potential for a variety of immunosensor applications. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Molar Mass and Charge Density on the Formation of Complexes between Oppositely Charged Polyelectrolytes
Polymers 2017, 9(2), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym9020050 - 04 Feb 2017
Cited by 9
Abstract
The interactions between model polyanions and polycations have been studied using frontal continuous capillary electrophoresis (FACCE) which allows the determination of binding stoichiometry and binding constant of the formed polyelectrolyte complex (PEC). In this work, the effect of the poly(l-lysine) (PLL) [...] Read more.
The interactions between model polyanions and polycations have been studied using frontal continuous capillary electrophoresis (FACCE) which allows the determination of binding stoichiometry and binding constant of the formed polyelectrolyte complex (PEC). In this work, the effect of the poly(l-lysine) (PLL) molar mass on the interaction with statistical copolymers of acrylamide and 2-acrylamido-2-methyl-1-propanesulfonate (PAMAMPS) has been systematically investigated for different PAMAMPS chemical charge densities (15% and 100%) and different ionic strengths. The study of the ionic strength dependence of the binding constant allowed the determination of the total number of released counter-ions during the formation of the PEC, which can be compared to the total number of counter-ions initially condensed on the individual polyelectrolyte partners before the association. Interestingly, this fraction of released counter-ions, which was strongly dependent on the PLL molar mass, was almost independent of the PAMAMPS charge density. These findings are useful to predict the binding constant according to the molar mass and charge density of the polyelectrolyte partners. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Polyion Complex Vesicles with Solvated Phosphobetaine Shells Formed from Oppositely Charged Diblock Copolymers
Polymers 2017, 9(2), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym9020049 - 04 Feb 2017
Cited by 12
Abstract
Diblock copolymers consisting of a hydrophilic poly(2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyl phosphorylcholine) (PMPC) block and either a cationic or anionic block were prepared from (3-(methacrylamido)propyl)trimethylammonium chloride (MAPTAC) or sodium 2-(acrylamido)-2-methylpropanesulfonate (AMPS). Polymers were synthesized via reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) radical polymerization using a PMPC macro-chain transfer [...] Read more.
Diblock copolymers consisting of a hydrophilic poly(2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyl phosphorylcholine) (PMPC) block and either a cationic or anionic block were prepared from (3-(methacrylamido)propyl)trimethylammonium chloride (MAPTAC) or sodium 2-(acrylamido)-2-methylpropanesulfonate (AMPS). Polymers were synthesized via reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) radical polymerization using a PMPC macro-chain transfer agent. The degree of polymerization for PMPC, cationic PMAPTAC, and anionic PAMPS blocks was 20, 190, and 196, respectively. Combining two solutions of oppositely charged diblock copolymers, PMPC-b-PMAPTAC and PMPC-b-PAMPS, led to the spontaneous formation of polyion complex vesicles (PICsomes). The PICsomes were characterized using 1H NMR, static abd dynamic light scattering, transmittance electron microscopy (TEM), and atomic force microscopy. Maximum hydrodynamic radius (Rh) for the PICsome was observed at a neutral charge balance of the cationic and anionic diblock copolymers. The Rh value and aggregation number (Nagg) of PICsomes in 0.1 M NaCl was 78.0 nm and 7770, respectively. A spherical hollow vesicle structure was observed in TEM images. The hydrodynamic size of the PICsomes increased with concentration of the diblock copolymer solutions before mixing. Thus, the size of the PICsomes can be controlled by selecting an appropriate preparation method. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Engineering Cell Surfaces with Polyelectrolyte Materials for Translational Applications
Polymers 2017, 9(2), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym9020040 - 28 Jan 2017
Cited by 6
Abstract
Engineering cell surfaces with natural or synthetic materials is a unique and powerful strategy for biomedical applications. Cells exhibit more sophisticated migration, control, and functional capabilities compared to nanoparticles, scaffolds, viruses, and other engineered materials or agents commonly used in the biomedical field. [...] Read more.
Engineering cell surfaces with natural or synthetic materials is a unique and powerful strategy for biomedical applications. Cells exhibit more sophisticated migration, control, and functional capabilities compared to nanoparticles, scaffolds, viruses, and other engineered materials or agents commonly used in the biomedical field. Over the past decade, modification of cell surfaces with natural or synthetic materials has been studied to exploit this complexity for both fundamental and translational goals. In this review we present the existing biomedical technologies for engineering cell surfaces with one important class of materials, polyelectrolytes. We begin by introducing the challenges facing the cell surface engineering field. We then discuss the features of polyelectrolytes and how these properties can be harnessed to solve challenges in cell therapy, tissue engineering, cell-based drug delivery, sensing and tracking, and immune modulation. Throughout the review, we highlight opportunities to drive the field forward by bridging new knowledge of polyelectrolytes with existing translational challenges. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Polymer Conformations in Ionic Microgels in the Presence of Salt: Theoretical and Mesoscale Simulation Results
Polymers 2017, 9(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym9010015 - 05 Jan 2017
Cited by 25
Abstract
We investigate the conformational properties of polymers in ionic microgels in the presence of salt ions by molecular dynamics simulations and analytical theory. A microgel particle consists of coarse-grained linear polymers, which are tetra-functionally crosslinked. Counterions and salt ions are taken into account [...] Read more.
We investigate the conformational properties of polymers in ionic microgels in the presence of salt ions by molecular dynamics simulations and analytical theory. A microgel particle consists of coarse-grained linear polymers, which are tetra-functionally crosslinked. Counterions and salt ions are taken into account explicitly, and charge-charge interactions are described by the Coulomb potential. By varying the charge interaction strength and salt concentration, we characterize the swelling of the polyelectrolytes and the charge distribution. In particular, we determine the amount of trapped mobile charges inside the microgel and the Debye screening length. Moreover, we analyze the polymer extension theoretically in terms of the tension blob model taking into account counterions and salt ions implicitly by the Debye–Hückel model. Our studies reveal a strong dependence of the amount of ions absorbed in the interior of the microgel on the electrostatic interaction strength, which is related to the degree of the gel swelling. This implies a dependence of the inverse Debye screening length κ on the ion concentration; we find a power-law increase of κ with the Coulomb interaction strength with the exponent 3 / 5 for a salt-free microgel and an exponent 1 / 2 for moderate salt concentrations. Additionally, the radial dependence of polymer conformations and ion distributions is addressed. Full article
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2016

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Open AccessArticle
Influence of Polyelectrolyte Multilayer Properties on Bacterial Adhesion Capacity
Polymers 2016, 8(10), 345; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8100345 - 26 Sep 2016
Cited by 8
Abstract
Bacterial adhesion can be controlled by different material surface properties, such as surface charge, on which we concentrate in our study. We use a silica surface on which poly(allylamine hydrochloride)/sodium poly(4-styrenesulfonate) (PAH/PSS) polyelectrolyte multilayers were formed. The corresponding surface roughness and hydrophobicity were [...] Read more.
Bacterial adhesion can be controlled by different material surface properties, such as surface charge, on which we concentrate in our study. We use a silica surface on which poly(allylamine hydrochloride)/sodium poly(4-styrenesulfonate) (PAH/PSS) polyelectrolyte multilayers were formed. The corresponding surface roughness and hydrophobicity were determined by atomic force microscopy and tensiometry. The surface charge was examined by the zeta potential measurements of silica particles covered with polyelectrolyte multilayers, whereby ionic strength and polyelectrolyte concentrations significantly influenced the build-up process. For adhesion experiments, we used the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The extent of adhered bacteria on the surface was determined by scanning electron microscopy. The results showed that the extent of adhered bacteria mostly depends on the type of terminating polyelectrolyte layer, since relatively low differences in surface roughness and hydrophobicity were obtained. In the case of polyelectrolyte multilayers terminating with a positively charged layer, bacterial adhesion was more pronounced than in the case when the polyelectrolyte layer was negatively charged. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Rheological Properties of DNA Molecules in Solution: Molecular Weight and Entanglement Influences
Polymers 2016, 8(8), 279; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8080279 - 03 Aug 2016
Cited by 3
Abstract
Molecular weight, stiffness, temperature, and polymer and ionic concentrations are known to widely influence the viscosity of polymer solutions. Additionally, polymer molecular weight—which is related to its dimensions in solution—is one of its most important characteristics. In this communication, low molecular weight DNA [...] Read more.
Molecular weight, stiffness, temperature, and polymer and ionic concentrations are known to widely influence the viscosity of polymer solutions. Additionally, polymer molecular weight—which is related to its dimensions in solution—is one of its most important characteristics. In this communication, low molecular weight DNA from salmon sperm was purified and then studied in solutions in a wide concentration range (between 0.5 and 1600 mg/mL). The intrinsic viscosity of this low molecular weight DNA sample was firstly determined and the evidence of the overlap concentration was detected around the concentration of 125 mg/mL. The chain characteristics of these short molecules were studied in terms of the influence of their molecular weight on the solution viscosities and on the overlap parameter CDNA[η]. Furthermore, to complete previously reported experimental data, solutions of a large molecular weight DNA from calf-thymus were studied in a high concentration range (up to 40 mg/mL). The rheological behavior is discussed in terms of the generalized master curve obtained from the variation of the specific viscosity at zero shear rate (ηsp,0) as a function of CDNA[η]. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Physicochemical Properties of Biopolymer Hydrogels Treated by Direct Electric Current
Polymers 2016, 8(7), 248; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8070248 - 12 Jul 2016
Cited by 7
Abstract
The objective of this study was to evaluate the changes within the physicochemical properties of gelatine (2%; 4%; 8%), carrageenan (1.5%; 2%; 2.5%) and sodium alginate (0.75%; 1%; 1.25%) hydrogels with different sodium chloride concentrations that were triggered by applying direct current (DC) [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the changes within the physicochemical properties of gelatine (2%; 4%; 8%), carrageenan (1.5%; 2%; 2.5%) and sodium alginate (0.75%; 1%; 1.25%) hydrogels with different sodium chloride concentrations that were triggered by applying direct current (DC) of 400 mA for a duration of five minutes. There were three types of gels prepared for the purpose of the study: C, control; H, gels on the basis of hydrosols that were treated with DC; and G, gels treated with DC. In the course of the study, the authors carried out the following analyses: Texture Profile Analysis (TPA), Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Swelling Ratio (SR). Furthermore, the color and pH of hydrogels were measured. The FTIR spectra showed that the structures of gelatine, carrageenan and sodium alginate do not significantly change upon applying DC. The results of TPA, SR, color and pH measurement indicate that hydrogels’ properties are significantly dependent on the type of polymer, its concentration and the type of the gel. By changing those parameters, the characteristics of such gels can be additionally tuned, which extends their applicability, e.g., in the food industry. Moreover, the analysis revealed that SR of H gel gelatine after 72 h of storage was 1.84-times higher than SR of the control sample, which indicated that this gel may be considered as a possible component for wound dressing materials. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Very High Charge Density and Monomer Constitution on the Synthesis and Properties of Cationic Polyelectrolytes
Polymers 2016, 8(6), 234; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8060234 - 16 Jun 2016
Cited by 1
Abstract
The free-radical homopolymerization of 1,3-bis(N,N,N-trimethylammonium)-2-propylmethacrylate dichloride (di-M) and 1,3-bis(N,N,N-trimethylammonium)-2-propylacrylate dichloride (di-A) in aqueous solution yields cationic polyelectrolytes (PEL) with theoretical/structural charge spacing of only ≈0.12 nm. The high charge density causes condensation of ≈82% of the chloride counterions. The [...] Read more.
The free-radical homopolymerization of 1,3-bis(N,N,N-trimethylammonium)-2-propylmethacrylate dichloride (di-M) and 1,3-bis(N,N,N-trimethylammonium)-2-propylacrylate dichloride (di-A) in aqueous solution yields cationic polyelectrolytes (PEL) with theoretical/structural charge spacing of only ≈0.12 nm. The high charge density causes condensation of ≈82% of the chloride counterions. The high level of counterion condensation reduces the ionic strength in the polymerizing batch when the monomer molecules connect to PEL chains. This has the consequence that the hydrodynamic and excluded volume of the PEL molecules will change. Studies of the free radical polymerization revealed non-ideal polymerization kinetics already at low conversion and additionally autoacceleration above a certain monomer concentration and conversion. Similar autoacceleration was not observed for monomers yielding PEL with charge spacing of 0.25 or 0.5 nm. Coulomb interactions, monomer association, steric effects, and specific features of the monomer constitution have been evaluated concerning their contributions to the concentration dependence and conversion dependence of kinetic parameters. The different backbone constitutions of di-M and di-A not only influence the polymerization kinetics but also equip poly(di-M) with higher hydrolytic stability. The experimental results confirm the impact of electrochemical parameters and the necessity to reconsider their inclusion in kinetic models. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
SANS from Salt-Free Aqueous Solutions of Hydrophilic and Highly Charged Star-Branched Polyelectrolytes
Polymers 2016, 8(6), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8060228 - 08 Jun 2016
Cited by 6
Abstract
Scattering functions of sodium sulfonated polystyrene (NaPSS) star-branched polyelectrolytes with high sulfonation degrees were measured from their salt-free aqueous solutions, using the Small Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS) technique. Whatever the concentration c, they display two maxima. The first, of abscissa q1 [...] Read more.
Scattering functions of sodium sulfonated polystyrene (NaPSS) star-branched polyelectrolytes with high sulfonation degrees were measured from their salt-free aqueous solutions, using the Small Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS) technique. Whatever the concentration c, they display two maxima. The first, of abscissa q1*, is related to a position order between star cores and scales as q1* ∝ c1/3. The second, of abscissa q2*, is also observed in the scattering function of a semi-dilute solution of NaPSS linear polyelectrolytes. In the dilute regime (c < c*, non-overlapping stars), peak abscissa does not depend on concentration c and is just an intramolecular characteristic associated with the electrostatic repulsion between arms of the same star. In the semi-dilute regime, due to the star interpenetration, the scattering function – through the peak position, reflects repulsion between arms of the same star or of different stars. The c threshold between these distinct c-dependencies of q2* in the dilute and semi-dilute regimes is estimated as c*. Just as simple is the measurement of the geometrical radius R of the star obtained from the q1* value at c* through the relation 2R = 2π/q1*. By considering NaPSS stars of the same functionality with different degrees of polymerization per arm Na, we find R scaling linearly with Na, suggesting an elongated average conformation of the arms. This is in agreement with theoretical predictions and simulations. Meanwhile the value of q2* measured in the dilute regime does not allow any inhomogeneous counterion distribution inside the stars to be revealed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Influence of Polyplex Formation on the Performance of Star-Shaped Polycationic Transfection Agents for Mammalian Cells
Polymers 2016, 8(6), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8060224 - 06 Jun 2016
Cited by 6
Abstract
Genetic modification (“transfection”) of mammalian cells using non-viral, synthetic agents such as polycations, is still a challenge. Polyplex formation between the DNA and the polycation is a decisive step in such experiments. Star-shaped polycations have been proposed as superior transfection agents, yet have [...] Read more.
Genetic modification (“transfection”) of mammalian cells using non-viral, synthetic agents such as polycations, is still a challenge. Polyplex formation between the DNA and the polycation is a decisive step in such experiments. Star-shaped polycations have been proposed as superior transfection agents, yet have never before been compared side-by-side, e.g., in view of structural effects. Herein four star-shaped polycationic structures, all based on (2-dimethylamino) ethyl methacrylate (DMAEMA) building blocks, were investigated for their potential to deliver DNA to adherent (CHO, L929, HEK-293) and non-adherent (Jurkat, primary human T lymphocytes) mammalian cells. The investigated vectors included three structures where the PDMAEMA arms (different arm length and grafting densities) had been grown from a center silsesquioxane or silica-coated γ-Fe2O3-core and one micellar structure self-assembled from poly(1,2-butadiene)-block PDMAEMA polymers. All nano-stars combined high transfection potential with excellent biocompatibility. The micelles slightly outperformed the covalently linked agents. For method development and optimization, the absolute amount of polycation added to the cells was more important than the N/P-ratio (ratio between polycation nitrogen and DNA phosphate), provided a lower limit was passed and enough polycation was present to overcompensate the negative charge of the plasmid DNA. Finally, the matrix (NaCl vs. HEPES-buffered glucose solution), but also the concentrations adjusted during polyplex formation, affected the results. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Polypeptide-Nanoparticle Interactions and Corona Formation Investigated by Monte Carlo Simulations
Polymers 2016, 8(6), 203; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8060203 - 25 May 2016
Cited by 11
Abstract
Biomacromolecule activity is usually related to its ability to keep a specific structure. However, in solution, many parameters (pH, ionic strength) and external compounds (polyelectrolytes, nanoparticles) can modify biomacromolecule structure as well as acid/base properties, thus resulting in a loss of activity and [...] Read more.
Biomacromolecule activity is usually related to its ability to keep a specific structure. However, in solution, many parameters (pH, ionic strength) and external compounds (polyelectrolytes, nanoparticles) can modify biomacromolecule structure as well as acid/base properties, thus resulting in a loss of activity and denaturation. In this paper, the impact of neutral and charged nanoparticles (NPs) is investigated by Monte Carlo simulations on polypeptide (PP) chains with primary structure based on bovine serum albumin. The influence of pH, salt valency, and NP surface charge density is systematically studied. It is found that the PP is extended at extreme pH, when no complex formation is observed, and folded at physiological pH. PP adsorption around oppositely-charged NPs strongly limits chain structural changes and modifies its acid/base properties. At physiological pH, the complex formation occurs only with positively-charged NPs. The presence of salts, in particular those with trivalent cations, introduces additional electrostatic interactions, resulting in a mitigation of the impact of negative NPs. Thus, the corona structure is less dense with locally-desorbed segments. On the contrary, very limited impact of salt cation valency is observed when NPs are positive, due to the absence of competitive effects between multivalent cations and NP. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Porphyrin Diacid-Polyelectrolyte Assemblies: Effective Photocatalysts in Solution
Polymers 2016, 8(5), 180; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8050180 - 04 May 2016
Cited by 12
Abstract
Developing effective and versatile photocatalytic systems is of great potential in solar energy conversion. Here we investigate the formation of supramolecular catalysts by electrostatic self-assembly in aqueous solution: Combining positively charged porphyrins with negatively charged polyelectrolytes leads to nanoscale assemblies where, next to [...] Read more.
Developing effective and versatile photocatalytic systems is of great potential in solar energy conversion. Here we investigate the formation of supramolecular catalysts by electrostatic self-assembly in aqueous solution: Combining positively charged porphyrins with negatively charged polyelectrolytes leads to nanoscale assemblies where, next to electrostatic interactions, π–π interactions also play an important role. Porphyrin diacid-polyelectrolyte assemblies exhibit a substantially enhanced catalytic activity for the light-driven oxidation of iodide. Aggregates with the hexavalent cationic porphyrin diacids show up to 22 times higher catalytic activity than the corresponding aggregates under neutral conditions. The catalytic activity can be increased by increasing the valency of the porphyrin and by choice of the loading ratio. The structural investigation of the supramolecular catalysts took place via atomic force microscopy and small angle neutron scattering. Hence, a new facile concept for the design of efficient and tunable self-assembled photocatalysts is presented. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of the Performance of Dual Polyelectrolyte Systems on the Re-Flocculation Ability of Calcium Carbonate Aggregates in Turbulent Environment
Polymers 2016, 8(5), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8050174 - 29 Apr 2016
Cited by 2
Abstract
Flocculation can be used in turbulent environments resulting in floc breakage due to shearing. The degree of re-flocculation relates directly to product quality and process efficiency. This study aimed at looking for alternatives to improve the re-flocculation ability of aggregates when polyelectrolytes (PEL) [...] Read more.
Flocculation can be used in turbulent environments resulting in floc breakage due to shearing. The degree of re-flocculation relates directly to product quality and process efficiency. This study aimed at looking for alternatives to improve the re-flocculation ability of aggregates when polyelectrolytes (PEL) are used as flocculation agents. Moreover, because branched PEL have proved previously to lead to high flocculation efficiencies, the work presented focus on the improvement of the re-flocculation ability of branched PEL. Thus, a selection of branched polymers were used primarily as flocculation aid and after flocs break up a linear polymer was added to the system in order to improve re-flocculation. Different mixtures were tested with the objective to try to induce, during re-flocculation, complementary flocculation mechanisms, favoring the patching mechanism. Re-flocculation improved significantly with this strategy. Laser Diffraction Spectroscopy was used to monitor the flocculation and re-flocculation processes supplying information about the floc size and structure. Since inorganic materials, namely bentonite, have been widely used to improve the re-flocculation capacity of polyelectrolytes, the results of using dual polyelectrolyte systems were compared with the effect of adding bentonite to the system. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Thermodynamic Analysis of the Conformational Transition in Aqueous Solutions of Isotactic and Atactic Poly(Methacrylic Acid) and the Hydrophobic Effect
Polymers 2016, 8(5), 168; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8050168 - 28 Apr 2016
Cited by 9
Abstract
The affinity of amphiphilic compounds for water is important in various processes, e.g., in conformational transitions of biopolymers, protein folding/unfolding, partitioning of drugs in the living systems, and many others. Herein, we study the conformational transition of two isomer forms of poly(methacrylic acid) [...] Read more.
The affinity of amphiphilic compounds for water is important in various processes, e.g., in conformational transitions of biopolymers, protein folding/unfolding, partitioning of drugs in the living systems, and many others. Herein, we study the conformational transition of two isomer forms of poly(methacrylic acid) (PMA), isotactic (iPMA) and atactic (aPMA), in water. These isomers are chemically equivalent and differ only in the arrangement of functional groups along the chain. A complete thermodynamic analysis of the transition of the PMA chains from the compact to the extended form (comprising the conformational transition) in water in the presence of three alkali chlorides is conducted by determining the free energy, enthalpy, and entropy changes of the process as a function of temperature, and therefrom also the heat capacity change. The heat capacity change of the transition is positive (+20 J/K mol) for aPMA and negative (−50 J/K mol) for iPMA. This result suggests a different affinity of PMA isomers for water. The conformational transition of iPMA is parallel to the transfer of polar solutes into water, whereas that of aPMA agrees with the transfer of nonpolar solutes into water. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Mesogenic Polyelectrolyte Gels Absorb Organic Solvents and Liquid Crystalline Molecules
Polymers 2016, 8(4), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8040148 - 19 Apr 2016
Cited by 7
Abstract
In this paper, mesogenic polyelectrolyte gels (MPEgels) tethering mesogenic groups on the side chains were synthesized from a mesogenic monomer and ionic monomer via a conventional radical polymerization process. The obtained MPEgels absorbed various organic solvents in a wide range of dielectric constants [...] Read more.
In this paper, mesogenic polyelectrolyte gels (MPEgels) tethering mesogenic groups on the side chains were synthesized from a mesogenic monomer and ionic monomer via a conventional radical polymerization process. The obtained MPEgels absorbed various organic solvents in a wide range of dielectric constants from chloroform (ε = 7.6) to DMSO (ε = 46.5). The electrostatic repulsion among the polymer chains and the osmotic pressure between the interior and exterior of the MPEgel is responsible for the high swelling ability, revealed by the common ion effect using tetra(n-hexyl)ammonium tetra(3,5-bis(trifluoromethyl)phenylborate (THATFPB). The obtained MPEgels could also absorb liquid crystalline molecules such as 4-cyano-4’-pentylbiphenyl (5CB), analogously caused by the above-mentioned polyelectrolyte characteristic. The MPEgels exhibited liquid crystal transition temperature (TNI) on differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) measurement, and the increase of the ionic group content lowered TNI. The MPEgels absorbing liquid crystalline molecules exhibited differing TNI, dependent on the compatibility of the mesogenic group on the side chain to the liquid crystalline molecule. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Modification of Spherical Polyelectrolyte Brushes by Layer-by-Layer Self-Assembly as Observed by Small Angle X-ray Scattering
Polymers 2016, 8(4), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8040145 - 15 Apr 2016
Cited by 12
Abstract
Multilayer modified spherical polyelectrolyte brushes were prepared through alternate deposition of positively charged poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) and negatively charged poly-l-aspartic acid (PAsp) onto negatively charged spherical poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) brushes (SPBs) on a poly(styrene) core. The charge reversal determined by the [...] Read more.
Multilayer modified spherical polyelectrolyte brushes were prepared through alternate deposition of positively charged poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) and negatively charged poly-l-aspartic acid (PAsp) onto negatively charged spherical poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) brushes (SPBs) on a poly(styrene) core. The charge reversal determined by the zeta potential indicated the success of layer-by-layer (LBL) deposition. The change of the structure during the construction of multilayer modified SPBs was observed by small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). SAXS results indicated that some PAH chains were able to penetrate into the PAA brush for the PAA-PAH double-layer modified SPBs whereas part of the PAH moved towards the outer layer when the PAsp layer was loaded to form a PAA-PAH-PAsp triple-layer system. The multilayer modified SPBs were stable upon changing the pH (5 to 9) and ionic strength (1 to 100 mM). The triple-layer modified SPBs were more tolerated to high pH (even at 11) compared to the double-layer ones. SAXS is proved to be a powerful tool for studying the inner structure of multilayer modified SPBs, which can establish guidelines for the a range of potential applications of multilayer modified SPBs. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Activated Charge-Reversal Polymeric Nano-System: The Promising Strategy in Drug Delivery for Cancer Therapy
Polymers 2016, 8(4), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8040099 - 05 Apr 2016
Cited by 11
Abstract
Various polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) with optimal size, tumor-targeting functionalization, or microenvironment sensitive characteristics have been designed to solve several limitations of conventional chemotherapy. Nano-sized polymeric drug carrier systems have remarkably great advantages in drug delivery and cancer therapy, which are still plagued with [...] Read more.
Various polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) with optimal size, tumor-targeting functionalization, or microenvironment sensitive characteristics have been designed to solve several limitations of conventional chemotherapy. Nano-sized polymeric drug carrier systems have remarkably great advantages in drug delivery and cancer therapy, which are still plagued with severe deficiencies, especially insufficient cellular uptake. Recently, surface charge of medical NPs has been demonstrated to play an important role in cellular uptake. NPs with positive charge show higher affinity to anionic cell membranes such that with more efficient cellular internalization, but otherwise cause severe aggregation and fast clearance in circulation. Thus, surface charge-reversal NPs, specifically activated at the tumor site, have shown to elegantly resolve the enhanced cellular uptake in cancer cells vs. non-specific protein adsorption dilemma. Herein, this review mainly focuses on the effect of tumor-site activated surface charge reversal NPs on tumor treatment, including the activated mechanisms and various applications in suppressing cancer cells, killing cancer stem cell and overcoming multidrug resistance, with the emphasis on recent research in these fields. With the comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the activated surface charge reversal NPs, this approach might arouse great interest of scientific research on enhanced efficient polymeric nano-carriers in cancer therapy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Temperature Treatment on the Structure of Polyelectrolyte Multilayers
Polymers 2016, 8(4), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8040120 - 02 Apr 2016
Cited by 7
Abstract
The study addresses the effect of thermal treatment on the internal structure of polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEMs). In order to get insight into the internal structure of PEMs, Neutron Reflectometry (NR) was used. PEMs with a deuterated inner block towards the substrate and a [...] Read more.
The study addresses the effect of thermal treatment on the internal structure of polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEMs). In order to get insight into the internal structure of PEMs, Neutron Reflectometry (NR) was used. PEMs with a deuterated inner block towards the substrate and a non-deuterated outer block were prepared and measured in 1% RH and in D2O before and after a thermal treatment. Complementarily, PEMs with the same number of layers but completely non-deuterated were investigated by ellipsometry. The analysis for the overall thickness (d), the average scattering length density (SLD) and the refractive index (n) indicate a degradation of the PEM. The loss in material is independent of the number of layers, i.e., only a constant part of the PEM is affected by degradation. The analysis of the internal structure revealed a more complex influence of thermal treatment on PEM structure. Only the outermost part of the PEM degenerates, while the inner part becomes denser during the thermal treatment. In addition, the swelling behavior of PEMs is influenced by the thermal treatment. The untreated PEM shows a well pronounced odd—even effect, i.e., PDADMAC-terminated PEMs take up more water than PSS-terminated PEMs. After the thermal treatment, the odd-even effect becomes much weaker. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Systematic Limitations in Concentration Analysis via Anomalous Small-Angle X-ray Scattering in the Small Structure Limit
Polymers 2016, 8(3), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8030085 - 16 Mar 2016
Cited by 1
Abstract
Anomalous small angle scattering measurements have been applied to diluted solutions of anionic polyacrylates decorated by specifically-interacting Pb2+ cations, revealing partial collapse of the polyacrylate into pearl-like subdomains with a size on the order of a few nanometers. From the pure-resonant scattering [...] Read more.
Anomalous small angle scattering measurements have been applied to diluted solutions of anionic polyacrylates decorated by specifically-interacting Pb2+ cations, revealing partial collapse of the polyacrylate into pearl-like subdomains with a size on the order of a few nanometers. From the pure-resonant scattering contribution of the Pb2+ cations, and from subsequent analysis of the resonant-invariant, the amount of Pb2+ cations condensed onto the polyanions with respect to the total amount of Pb2+ cations in the solvent was estimated. In order to scrutinize systematic limitations in the determination of the chemical concentrations of resonant scattering counterions in the collapsed phase, Monte Carlo simulations have been performed. The simulations are based on structural confinements at variable size in the range of few nanometers, which represent the collapsed subdomains in the polyanions. These confinements were gradually filled to a high degree of the volume fraction with resonant scattering counterions giving access to a resonant-invariant at a variable degree of filling. The simulations revealed in the limit of small structures a significant underestimation of the true degree of filling of the collapsed subdomains when determining chemical concentrations of Pb2+ cations from the resonant invariant. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Polyelectrolyte Threading through a Nanopore
Polymers 2016, 8(3), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8030073 - 03 Mar 2016
Cited by 6
Abstract
Threading charged polymers through a nanopore, driven by electric fields E, is investigated by means of Langevin dynamics simulations. The mean translocation time ⟨ τ ⟩ is shown to follow a scaling law Nα, and the exponent α increases monotonically from [...] Read more.
Threading charged polymers through a nanopore, driven by electric fields E, is investigated by means of Langevin dynamics simulations. The mean translocation time 〈 τ 〉 is shown to follow a scaling law Nα, and the exponent α increases monotonically from 1.16 (4) to 1.40 (3) with E. The result is double-checked by the calculation of mean square displacement of translocation coordinate, which asserts a scaling behavior tβ (for t near τ) with β complying with the relation αβ = 2. At a fixed chain length N, 〈τ〉 displayed a reciprocal scaling behavior E−1 in the weak and also in the strong fields, connected by a transition E−1.64(5) in the intermediate fields. The variations of the radius of gyration of chain and the positions of chain end are monitored during a translocation process; far-from-equilibrium behaviors are observed when the driving field is strong. A strong field can strip off the condensed ions on the chain when it passes the pore. The total charges of condensed ions are hence decreased. The studies for the probability and density distributions reveal that the monomers in the trans-region are gathered near the wall and form a pancake-like density profile with a hump cloud over it in the strong fields, due to fast translocation. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
pH-Responsive Intra- and Inter-Molecularly Micelle Formation of Anionic Diblock Copolymer in Water
Polymers 2016, 8(2), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8020056 - 19 Feb 2016
Abstract
Poly(sodium2-(acrylamido)-2-methylpropanesulfonate)-block-poly(sodium11-(acrylamido)undecanoate) (PAMPS–PAaU) was synthesized via reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT)-controlled radical polymerization. The “living” polymerization of PAaU was evidenced by the fact that the molecular weight distribution was narrow (Mw/Mn = 1.23). The pH-induced association behavior [...] Read more.
Poly(sodium2-(acrylamido)-2-methylpropanesulfonate)-block-poly(sodium11-(acrylamido)undecanoate) (PAMPS–PAaU) was synthesized via reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT)-controlled radical polymerization. The “living” polymerization of PAaU was evidenced by the fact that the molecular weight distribution was narrow (Mw/Mn = 1.23). The pH-induced association behavior of PAMPS–PAaU in 0.1 M NaCl aqueous solutions as a function of solution pH was investigated by 1H NMR spin-spin relaxation time, dynamic light scattering (DLS), static light scattering (SLS), and fluorescence probe techniques. These results indicated that PAMPS–PAaU formed polymer micelles in 0.1 M NaCl aqueous solutions at pH < 9. At pH = 8–9, the polymer formed the micelles intramolecularly due to hydrophobic self-association of the PAaU block within the single polymer chain. On the other hand, at pH < 8, micellization occurred intermolecularly to form polymer micelles comprising hydrophobic PAaU cores and hydrophilic PAMPS shells. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Conformation and Rheological Properties of Calf-Thymus DNA in Solution
Polymers 2016, 8(2), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8020051 - 11 Feb 2016
Cited by 16
Abstract
Studies of DNA molecule behavior in aqueous solutions performed through different approaches allow assessment of the solute-solvent interactions and examination of the strong influence of conformation on its physicochemical properties, in the presence of different ionic species and ionic concentrations. Firstly, the conformational [...] Read more.
Studies of DNA molecule behavior in aqueous solutions performed through different approaches allow assessment of the solute-solvent interactions and examination of the strong influence of conformation on its physicochemical properties, in the presence of different ionic species and ionic concentrations. Firstly, the conformational behavior of calf-thymus DNA molecules in TE buffer solution is presented as a function of temperature. Secondly, their rheological behavior is discussed, as well as the evidence of the critical concentrations, i.e., the overlap and the entanglement concentrations (C* and Ce, respectively) from steady state flow and oscillatory dynamic shear experiments. The determination of the viscosity in the Newtonian plateau obtained from flow curves η ( ) allows estimation of the intrinsic viscosity and the specific viscosities at zero shear when C[η] < 40. At end, a generalized master curve is obtained from the variation of the specific viscosity as a function of the overlap parameter C[η]. The variation of the exponent s obtained from the power law η~ s for both flow and dynamic results is discussed in terms of Graessley’s analysis. In the semi-dilute regime with entanglements, a dynamic master curve is obtained as a function of DNA concentration (CDNA > 2.0 mg/mL) and temperature (10 °C < T < 40 °C). Full article
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2015

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Open AccessReview
Recent Progress and Perspectives in the Electrokinetic Characterization of Polyelectrolyte Films
Polymers 2016, 8(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8010007 - 31 Dec 2015
Cited by 8
Abstract
The analysis of the charge, structure and molecular interactions of/within polymeric substrates defines an important analytical challenge in materials science. Accordingly, advanced electrokinetic methods and theories have been developed to investigate the charging mechanisms and structure of soft material coatings. In particular, there [...] Read more.
The analysis of the charge, structure and molecular interactions of/within polymeric substrates defines an important analytical challenge in materials science. Accordingly, advanced electrokinetic methods and theories have been developed to investigate the charging mechanisms and structure of soft material coatings. In particular, there has been significant progress in the quantitative interpretation of streaming current and surface conductivity data of polymeric films from the application of recent theories developed for the electrohydrodynamics of diffuse soft planar interfaces. Here, we review the theory and experimental strategies to analyze the interrelations of the charge and structure of polyelectrolyte layers supported by planar carriers under electrokinetic conditions. To illustrate the options arising from these developments, we discuss experimental and simulation data for plasma-immobilized poly(acrylic acid) films and for a polyelectrolyte bilayer consisting of poly(ethylene imine) and poly(acrylic acid). Finally, we briefly outline potential future developments in the field of the electrokinetics of polyelectrolyte layers. Full article
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