This study has examined the batch binding behaviour of different thermo-responsive co-polymer grafted chromatographic materials under different temperature and protein loading conditions. The effect of molecular composition of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm)-based co-polymers on the phase transition properties has been documented. Sixteen co-polymers of different compositions were synthesized by free radical polymerization methods. Most underwent relatively sharp phase transitions upon application of increasing temperature. However, the value of the lower critical solution temperature (LCST) varied due to differences in co-polymer compositions. In general, it was found that the LCST increased for co-polymers containing more hydrophilic moieties, but decreased for co-polymers with more hydrophobic moieties. Moreover, the LCST increased, together with increased width of the transition temperature, when highly branched monomeric moieties (i.e. N‑tert‑octyl groups) were present. When bulky side chains (octadecyl or triphenylmethyl groups) were located in the polymer structures the LCST transition was absent. Based on these findings, 6 thermo-responsive co-polymers of different compositions were individually immobilised onto cross-linked Sepharose 6 Fast Flow by a “grafting-from” method. Bovine holo-lactoferrin and bovine holo-transferrin at different concentrations in the range 1–100 mg/mL were then employed as target proteins to evaluate the adsorption behaviour under batch binding conditions with these different polymer grafted Sepharose 6 Fast Flow sorbents at two different temperatures. In general, all sorbents exhibited greater affinity and adsorption capacity for bovine holo-lactoferrin at 50 °C compared to 20 °C. In addition, the affinity and adsorption capacity of bovine holo-lactoferrin with positively charged copolymer grafted Sepharose 6 Fast Flow chromatographic sorbents at 20 °C and 50 °C were much lower than that found for negatively charged copolymer grafted Sepharose 6 Fast Flow sorbents, whilst the opposite trend was found with bovine holo-transferrin due to differences in the surface charge properties of these two proteins, indicative of different separation selectivity. Furthermore, the structure of the side chains present in the grafted copolymer structure was found to affect the adsorption performance of both proteins at 20 °C and 50 °C.
- Lower critical solution temperature
- Protein adsorption
- Stimuli-responsive polymers
- Thermo-responsive chromatographic sorbents