Published: 12 October 2020
The fast dynamics occurring in natural processes increases the difficulty of creating biomaterials capable of mimicking Nature. Within synthetic biomaterials, water-soluble supramolecular polymers show great potential in mimicking the dynamic behavior of these natural processes. In particular, benzene-1,3,5-tricaboxamide (BTA)-based supramolecular polymers have shown to be highly dynamic through the exchange of monomers within and between fibers, but their suitability as biomaterials has not been yet explored. Herein we systematically study the interactions of BTA supramolecular polymers bearing either tetraethylene glycol or mannose units at the periphery with different biological entities. When BTA fibers were incubated with bovine serum albumin (BSA), the protein conformation was only affected by the fibers containing tetraethylene glycol at the periphery (BTA-OEG4). Coarse-grained molecular simulations showed that BSA interacted with BTA-OEG4 fibers rather than with BTA-OEG4 monomers that are present in solution or that may exchange out of the fibers. Microscopy studies revealed that, in the presence of BSA, BTA-OEG4 retained their fiber conformation although their length was slightly shortened. When further incubated with fetal bovine serum (FBS), both long and short fibers were visualized in solution. Nevertheless, in the hydrogel state, the rheological properties were remarkably preserved. Further studies on the cellular compatibility of all the BTA assemblies and mixtures thereof were performed in four different cell lines. A low cytotoxic effect at most concentrations was observed, confirming the suitability of utilizing functional BTA supramolecular polymers as dynamic biomaterials.
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