Sulfonate Groups and Saccharides as Essential Structural Elements in Heparin-Mimicking Polymers Used as Surface Modifiers: Optimization of Relative Contents for Antithrombogenic Properties
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Blood compatibility is a long sought-after goal in biomaterials research, but remains an elusive one, and in spite of extensive work in this area, there is still no definitive information on the relationship between material properties and blood responses such as coagulation and thrombus formation. Materials modified with heparin-mimicking polymers have shown promise and indeed may be seen as comparable to materials modified with heparin itself. In this work, heparin was conceptualized as consisting of two major structural elements: saccharide- and sulfonate-containing units, and polymers based on this concept were developed. Copolymers of 2-methacrylamido glucopyranose, containing saccharide groups, and sodium 4-vinylbenzenesulfonate, containing sulfonate groups, were graft-polymerized on vinyl-functionalized polyurethane (PU) surfaces by free radical polymerization. This graft polymerization method is simple, and the saccharide and sulfonate contents are tunable by regulating the feed ratio of the monomers. Homopolymer-grafted materials, containing only sulfonate or saccharide groups, showed different effects on cell-surface interactions including platelet adhesion, adhesion and proliferation of vascular endothelial cells, and adhesion and proliferation of smooth muscle cells. The copolymer-grafted materials showed effects due to both sulfonate and saccharide elements with respect to blood responses, and the optimum composition was obtained at a 2:1 ratio of sulfonate to saccharide units (material designated as PU-PS1M1). In cell adhesion experiments, this material showed the lowest platelet and human umbilical vein smooth muscle cell density and the highest human umbilical vein endothelial cell density. Among the materials investigated, PU-PS1M1 also had the longest plasma clotting time. This material was thus shown to be multifunctional with a combination of properties, suggesting thromboresistant behavior in blood contact.
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