Langmuir, Vol.27, No.13, 8530-8539, 2011
The Effects of Substituent Grafting on the Interaction of pH-Responsive Polymers with Phospholipid Monolayers
pH-responsive amphiphilic polymers with suitable graftings have demonstrated highly efficient cell membrane activity and hence are promising applicants for drug-delivery. Grafting the hydrophobic amino acid L-phenylalanine and the hydrophilic methoxy poly(ethylene glycol) amine onto the pendant carboxylic acid moieties of a linear polyamide, poly(L-lysine isophthalamide), can effectively modify the amphiphilicity and conformation of the amphiphilic polymers. Here, the interactions of these polymers with phospholipid monolayers adsorbed on mercury (Hg) electrodes have been studied. AC voltammetry (ACV), rapid cyclic voltammetry (RCV), and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) have been applied to monitor phospholipid monolayer associations with different polymer concentrations under different pH values. The polymers interact reversibly with the monolayer shown by altering the monolayer capacitance and inhibiting the phospholipid reorientation in electric field. Polymer grafting enhances the pH-mediated conformational change of the polymers which in turn increases their phospholipid monolayer activity. The most significant monolayer interactions have been observed with the polymer grafted with hydrophobic L-phenylalanine. A low level of PEGylation of the backbone also increases the monolayer activity. The polymer/DOPC interactions have been represented with an impedance model, which takes account of the interaction giving rise to an increase in monolayer capacitance and inhomogeneity and a Debye type dielectric relaxation. The extent of penetration of the polymers into the monolayer is inversely related to the electrical resistance they give rise to during the Debye relaxation. The cell membrane activities of these amphiphilic polymers have been successfully mirrored in this supported DOPC monolayer system, isolating the key parameters for biomembrane activities and giving insight into the mechanism of the interactions. The conclusions from this study provide strategic directions in material design catering to different requirements in biomedical applications.