Interaction of Human Plasma Proteins with Thin Gelatin-Based Hydrogel Films: A QCM-D and ToF-SIMS Study


In the fields of surgery and regenerative medicine, it is crucial to understand the interactions of proteins with the biomaterials used as implants. Protein adsorption directly influences cell-material interactions in vivo and, as a result, regulates, for example, cell adhesion on the surface of the implant. Therefore, the development of suitable analytical techniques together with well-defined model systems allowing for the detection, characterization, and quantification of protein adsorbates is essential. In this study, a protocol for the deposition of highly stable, thin gelatin-based films on various substrates has been developed. The hydrogel films were characterized morphologically and chemically. Due to the obtained low thickness of the hydrogel layer, this setup allowed for a quantitative study on the interaction of human proteins (albumin and fibrinogen) with the hydrogel by Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation Monitoring (QCM-D). This technique enables the determination of adsorbant mass and changes in the shear modulus of the hydrogel layer upon adsorption of human proteins. Furthermore, Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry and principal component analysis was applied to monitor the changed composition of the topmost adsorbate layer. This approach opens interesting perspectives for a sensitive screening of viscoelastic biomaterials that could be used for regenerative medicine.
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