Interaction forces between surfaces designed to be protein resistant and fibrinogen (Fg) were investigated in phosphate-buffered saline with colloid probe atomic force microscopy. The surfaces of the silica probes were coated with a layer of fibrinogen molecules by adsorption from the buffer. The technique of low-power, pulsed AC plasma polymerization was used to make poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-like coatings on poly(ethylene teraphthalate) by using diethylene glycol vinyl ether as the monomer gas. The degree of PEG-like nature of the films was controlled by use of a different effective plasma power in the chamber for each coating, ranging from 0.6 to 3.6 W. This produced a series of thin films with a different number of ether carbons, as assessed by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The interaction force measurements are discussed in relation to trends observed in the reduction of fibrinogen adsorption, as determined quantitatively by 125I radio-labeling. The plasma polymer coatings with the greatest protein-repelling properties were the most PEG-like in nature and showed the strongest repulsion in interaction force measurements with the fibrinogen-coated probe. Once forced into contact, all the surfaces showed increased adhesion with the protein layer on the probe, and the strength and extension length of adhesion was dependent on both the applied load and the plasma polymer surface chemistry. When the medium was changed from buffer to water, the adhesion after contact was eliminated and only appeared at much higher loads. This indicates that the structure of the fibrinogen molecules on the probe is changed from an extended conformation in buffer to a flat conformation in water, with the former state allowing for stronger interaction with the polymer chains on the surface. These experiments underline the utility of aqueous surface force measurements toward understanding protein-surface interactions, and developing nonfouling surfaces that confer a steric barrier against protein adsorption.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry