Trisulfide-Bearing PEG Brush Polymers Donate Hydrogen Sulfide and Ameliorate Cellular Oxidative Stress

Nam V. Dao, Francesca Ercole, Lisa M. Kaminskas, Thomas P. Davis, Erica K. Sloan, Michael R. Whittaker, John F. Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


A potential approach to combat cellular dysfunction is to manipulate cell communication and signaling pathways to restore physiological functions while protecting unaffected cells. For instance, delivering the signaling molecule H2S to certain cells has been shown to restore cell viability and re-normalize cell behavior. We have previously demonstrated the ability to incorporate a trisulfide-based H2S-donating moiety into linear polymers with good in vitro releasing profiles and demonstrated their potential for ameliorating oxidative stress. Herein, we report two novel series of brush polymers decorated with higher numbers of H2S-releasing segments. These materials contain two trisulfide-based monomers co-polymerized with oligo(ethylene glycol methyl ether methacrylate) via reversible addition-fragmentation chain-transfer polymerization. The macromolecules were characterized to have a range of trisulfide densities with similar, well-defined molecular weight distribution, good H2S-releasing profiles, and high cellular tolerance. Using an amperometric technique, the H2S liberated and total sulfide release were found to depend on concentrations and chemical nature of triggering molecules (glutathione and cysteine) and, importantly, the position of reactive groups within the brush structure. Notably, when introduced to cells at well-tolerated doses, two macromolecular donors which have the same proportion as of the H2S-donating monomer (30%) but differ in releasing moiety location show similar cellular H2S-releasing kinetics. These donors can restore reactive oxygen species levels to baseline values, when polymer pretreated cells are exposed to exogenous oxidants (H2O2). Our work opens up a new aspect in preparing H2S macromolecule donors and their application to arresting cellular oxidative cascades.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5292–5305
Number of pages14
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2020

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