Protein deposition at polymer surfaces: the bulk and surface structure-property effects of hydrogels
The primary objective of this research has been to investigate the interfacial phenomenon of protein adsorption in relation to the bulk and surface structure-property effect s of hydrogel polymers. In order to achieve this it was first necessary to characterise the bulk and surface properties of the hydrogels, with regard to the structural chemistry of their component monomers. The bulk properties of the hydrogels were established using equilibrium water content measurements, together with water-binding studies by differential scanning calorimetry (D.S.C.). Hamilton and captive air bubble-contact angle techniques were employed to characterise the hydrogel-water interface and from which by a mathematical derivation, the interfacial free energy (ðsw) and the surface free energy components (ð psv, ðdsv, ðsv) were obtained. From the adsorption studies using the radio labelled iodinated (125I) proteins of human serum albumin (H.S.A.) and human fibrinogen (H.Fb.), it was Found that multi-layered adsorption was occurring and that the rate and type of this adsorption was dependent on the physico-chemical behaviour of the adsorbing protein (and its bulk concentration in solution), together with the surface energetics of the adsorbent polymer. A potential method for the invitro evaluation of a material's 'biocompatibility' was also investigated, based on an empirically observed relationship between the adsorption of albumin and fibrinogen and the 'biocompatibility' of polymeric materials. Furthermore, some consideration was also given to the biocompatibility problem of proteinaceous deposit formation on hydrophilic soft' contact lenses and in addition a number of potential continual wear contact lens formulations now undergoing clinical trials,were characterised by the above techniques.