A novel method for improving the haemocompatibility of biomedical materials through endogenous nitric oxide (NO) is presented. L-cysteine was covalently immobilized onto two biomedical polymers: polyurethane (PU) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The L-cysteine content on the polymers was approximately 5-8 nmol/cm2as quantified via a chemiluminescence-based assay. The haemocompatibility of the modified polymers was evaluated in terms of the number of adhered platelets when exposed to a platelet suspension labeled with Cr51. Platelet adherence on the L-cysteine-modified polymers was reduced more than 50% as compared to the control (glycine-modified polymers) when the platelet suspension contained plasma constituents. No difference in platelet adhesion was observed in the absence of plasma constituents. Further experiments demonstrated that NO was easily transferred to the L-cysteine-modified polymers from S-nitroso-albumin in PBS buffer. The NO was then released from the polymer. NO transfer or release was not observed for the control. The results suggest that L-cysteine-modified polymers are effective in reducing platelet adhesion via the transfer of NO from endogenous S-nitrosoproteins in plasma to the polymer followed by the subsequent release of NO. Thus, exploiting endogenous NO is a viable option for improving the haemocompatibility of biomaterials. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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