Zwitteration As an Alternative to PEGylation
A direct, head-to-head comparison of the efficacy of a zwitterionic versus a poly(ethylene glycol), PEG, coating in preventing protein adsorption to silica and aggregation of silica nanoparticles is presented. The same siloxane coupling chemistry was employed to yield surfaces with similar coverages of both types of ligand. Nanoparticle and planar surfaces were challenged with salt, serum, lysozyme, and serum albumin at 25 and 37 °C. While both types of surface modification are highly effective in preventing protein adsorption and nanoparticle aggregation, the zwitterion provided monolayer-type coverage with minimal thickness, whereas the PEG appeared to yield a more three-dimensional coating. The mechanism for adsorption resistance is thought to be based on preventing ion pairing between protein and surface charges, which releases counterions and water molecules, an entropic driving force enough to overcome a disfavored enthalpy of adsorption.