Block copolymers for the rational design of self-forming postsurgical adhesion barriers

John M. Medley, Eric J. Beane, S. C. Sundararaj, Eugene Kaplan, David A. Puleo, Thomas D. Dziubla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Post-surgical adhesions, abnormal fibrous linkages between adjacent tissue surfaces, represent one of the most common and significant complications facing surgical recovery today. Physical barriers and gels have been the most successful at limiting their formation, yet are not effective in cases where the pro-adhesive site is either unknown or difficult to reach (e.g. during laparoscopic surgery). In this work, poly(methacrylic acid-co-t-butylmethacrylate)-b-poly(ethylene glycol (over(M, -)N = 1000) methacrylate) diblock and statistical copolymers were synthesized as a platform for designing self-forming adhesion barriers, which can attach to exposed pro-adhesive sites through binding with the positively charged extracellular matrix, basement membrane proteins and deposited fibrin. An experimental model based upon a quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation was developed to test the diblock copolymers ability (i) to adsorb to an amine-terminated self-assembled monolayer, and (ii) to inhibit subsequent protein adsorption. These results were also confirmed using an in vitro cell attachment model. As the mole fraction of methacrylic acid content increased, polymer adsorption increased. All synthesized diblock copolymers investigated provided high resistance to protein adsorption, with blockade ranging from 55% to 81%. Except for the uncharged control polymers, the ability of these materials to resist cellular attachment showed similar trends, with the suppression of attachment approaching 75%. Energy dissipation analysis and variable-angle spectroscopic ellipsometry revealed two competing adsorption mechanisms depending on the molecular properties of the polymer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-82
Number of pages11
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Dr. J. Zach Hilt for stimulating discussions and helpful advice, the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CeNSE) at the University of Kentucky for use of their quartz crystal microbalance, and Dr. John Layton and the University of Kentucky Chemistry NMR Facility for access to their NMR equipment. This work was funded by a start-up package from the University of Kentucky College of Engineering.


  • Anti-adhesion
  • Polyethylene glycol
  • Protein adsorption
  • Surface analysis
  • Tissue adhesion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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