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Nature. 1998 Apr 23;392(6678):799-801.

Biomimetic engineering of non-adhesive glycocalyx-like surfaces using oligosaccharide surfactant polymers.

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  • 1Department of Macromolecular Science, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.


The external region of a cell membrane, known as the glycocalyx, is dominated by glycosylated molecules, which direct specific interactions such as cell-cell recognition and contribute to the steric repulsion that prevents undesirable non-specific adhesion of other molecules and cells. Mimicking the non-adhesive properties of a glycocalyx provides a potential solution to the clinical problems, such as thrombosis, that are associated with implantable devices owing to non-specific adsorption of plasma proteins. Here we describe a biomimetic surface modification of graphite using oligosaccharide surfactant polymers, which, like a glycocalyx, provides a dense and confluent layer of oligosaccharides. The surfactant polymers consist of a flexible poly(vinyl amine) with dextran and alkanoyl side chains. We show that alkanoyl side chains assemble on graphite through hydrophobic interaction and epitaxial adsorption. This constrains the polymer backbone to lie parallel to the substrate, with solvated dextran side chains protruding into the aqueous phase, creating a glycocalyx-like coating. The resulting biomimetic surface is effective in suppressing protein adsorption from human plasma protein solution.

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