How Bound and Free Fatty Acids in Cellulose Films Impact Nonspecific Protein Adsorption

Katrin Niegelhell, Michael Suessenbacher, Jürgen Sattelkow, Harald Plank, Yonggui Wang, Kai Zhang, Stefan Spirk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of fatty acids and fatty acid esters to impair nonspecific protein adsorption on cellulose thin films is investigated. Thin films are prepared by blending trimethylsilyl cellulose solutions with either cellulose stearoyl ester or stearic acid at various ratios. After film formation by spin coating, the trimethylsilyl cellulose fraction of the films is converted to cellulose by exposure to HCl vapors. The morphologies and surface roughness of the blends were examined by atomic force microscopy revealing different feature shapes and sizes depending on the blend ratios. Nonspecific protein adsorption at the example of bovine serum albumin toward the blend thin films was tested by means of surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy in real-time. Incorporation of stearic acid into the cellulose leads to highly protein repellent surfaces regardless of the amount added. The stearic acid acts as a sacrificial compound that builds a complex with bovine serum albumin thereby inhibiting protein adsorption. For the blends where stearoyl ester is added to the cellulose films, the cellulose:cellulose stearoyl ester ratios of 3:1 and 1:1 lead to much lower nonspecific protein adsorption compared to pure cellulose, whereas for the other ratios, adsorption increases. Supplementary results were obtained from atomic force microscopy experiments performed in liquid during exposure to protein solution and surface free energy determinations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4224–4231
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2017

Fields of Expertise

  • Advanced Materials Science

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