Send to

Choose Destination
Biophys J. 2010 May 19;98(9):1782-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.01.012.

Characterization of particle translocation through mucin hydrogels.

Author information

Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Center for Systems Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.


Biological functional entities surround themselves with selective barriers that control the passage of certain classes of macromolecules while rejecting others. A prominent example of such a selective permeability barrier is given by mucus. Mucus is a biopolymer-based hydrogel that lines all wet epithelial surfaces of the human body. It regulates the uptake of nutrients from our gastrointestinal system, adjusts itself with the menstrual cycle to control the passage of sperm, and shields the underlying cells from pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. In the case of drug delivery, the mucus barrier needs to be overcome for successful medical treatment. Despite its importance for both physiology and medical applications, the underlying principles which regulate the permeability of mucus remain enigmatic. Here, we analyze the mobility of microscopic particles in reconstituted mucin hydrogels. We show that electrostatic interactions between diffusing particles and mucin polymers regulate the permeability properties of reconstituted mucin hydrogels. As a consequence, various parameters such as particle surface charge and mucin density, and buffer conditions such as pH and ionic strength, can modulate the microscopic barrier function of the mucin hydrogel. Our findings suggest that the permeability of a biopolymer-based hydrogel such as native mucus can be tuned to a wide range of settings in different compartments of our bodies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center