Catechol-functionalized sulfobetaine polymer for uniform zwitterionization via pH transition approach

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Department of Biomedical Engineering


The study aims to develop a modification strategy to facilitate uniform catechol-assisted zwitterionization on nitinol alloy for bio-compatibility and fouling resistance. Catechol-functionalized polysulfobetaine methacrylate (pSBMA/DA) is synthesized via dopamine-initiated photo-polymerization. Under UV irradiation, semiquinone radicals from dopamine (DA) can be generated, and prevented loss of one electron to intramolecular cyclization and intermolecular dimerization in a solution at pH 2. Pseudo-first-order polymerization kinetics, and relations of apparent rate constant and number average molecular weight with the molar ratio of DA in photopolymerization for pSBMA/DA are unveiled. In a solution at pH 3, PSBMA/DA begins aggregation, kept catechol moieties from premature oxidization, and enabled even deposition on the nitinol substrate. After pH regulation to 8.5, pSBMA/DA extends, and concurrently catechol moieties are activated to interact with the nitinol surface via the formation of bidentate binding. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) analysis revealed that a shorter pSBMA/DA chain with higher catechol content provides more anchoring sites to enhance zwitterionic moieties coverage on substrates. Interestingly, atomic force microscopy (AFM) images revealed a smooth and uniform deposition of pSBMA/DA using the pH-transition method. Strong ionic hydration of pSBMA/DA coating on nitinol surface repels non-specific adsorption of bio-foulants, permitting excellent antifouling properties. Zwitterion-modified nitinol achieved a reduction rate of 99.9% against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus attachment. In addition, pSBMA/DA exhibits a robust antifouling performance to NIH 3T3 mouse fibroblasts in culture media after incubation for 24 h. Overall, the pSBMA/DA coating via pH transition approach opens up a promising strategy to facilitate uniform surface functionalization for antifouling and coating technology.

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Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces