Crosslinking of collagen with dendrimers
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Polypropyleneimine octaamine dendrimers were studied as an alternative means of generating highly crosslinked collagen. Crosslinking was effected by using the water-soluble carbodiimide 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethyl aminopropyl) carbodiimide hydrochloride (EDC). The multifunctional dendrimers were introduced as novel crosslinkers after the activation of the carboxylic acid groups of glutamic and aspartic acid residues in collagen. The conventional crosslinker glutaraldehyde was used as a control. EDC, itself an alternative crosslinker, which forms zero-length crosslinks by directly covalently binding collagen molecules, as well as a low molecular weight diamine and a low molecular weight triamine, were also studied. All of the resultant gels were freeze-dried to obtain sponges for characterization. Water uptake of the gels decreased from 90% to 60% after dendrimer crosslinking compared with EDC crosslinking. DSC results showed an increase of denaturation temperature of collagen after crosslinking with the various methods. The generation 2 and 3 dendrimer-crosslinked collagen samples had the highest denaturation temperature, at up to 90 degrees C compared with 50 degrees C in the uncrosslinked collagen control. The dendrimer-crosslinked collagen also showed unique thermal characteristics, with multiple denaturation temperature peaks in contrast to the single peak noted with the other crosslinked collagens. This is thought to be due to the heterogeneous nature of dendrimer crosslinking. Collagenase results revealed that the dendrimer-crosslinked collagen had a comparative resistance to proteolysis to glutaraldehyde-crosslinked collagen. Measurement of activated carboxylic acid groups before and after crosslinking indicated that 40-70% of the activated carboxylic acid was consumed during crosslinking with dendrimers. The results suggest that dendrimer crosslinking of collagen produces stable gels. The presence of a large number of excess amine groups in the dendrimers may also be useful for subsequent modification with biologically relevant groups.
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