Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is widely used as an antifouling and stealth polymer in surface engineering and nanomedicine. However, recent research has revealed adverse effects of bioaccumulation and immunogenicity following the administration of PEG, prompting this proteomic examination of the plasma protein coronae association with superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) grafted with brushed PEG (bPEG) and an alternative, brushed phosphorylcholine (bPC). Using label-free quantitation by liquid chromatography tandem-mass spectrometry, this study determines protein abundances for the in vitro hard coronae of bare, bPC-, and bPEG-grafted IONPs in human plasma. This study also shows unique protein compositions in the plasma coronae of each IONP, including enrichment of coagulation factors and immunogenic complement proteins with bPEG, and enhanced binding of apolipoproteins with bPC. Functional analysis reveals that plasma protein coronae elevate the horseradish peroxidase-like activities of the bPC- and bPEG-IONPs by approximately twofold, an effect likely mediated by the diverse composition and physicochemical properties of the polymers as well as their associated plasma proteins. Taken together, these observations support the rational design of stealth polymers based on a quantitative understanding of the interplay between IONPs and the plasma proteome, and should prove beneficial for the development of materials for nanomedicine, biosensing, and catalysis.
- Iron oxide nanoparticles
- Plasma proteins