Preparation and characterization of protein-resistant hydrogels for soft contact lens applications via radical copolymerization involving a zwitterionic sulfobetaine comonomer.

Research paper by Wanlu W Zhang, Guangji G Li, Yinlei Y Lin, Liying L Wang, Shuqing S Wu

Indexed on: 12 Aug '17Published on: 12 Aug '17Published in: Journal of biomaterials science. Polymer edition


We aimed to introduce hydrophilic sulfobetaine-type zwitterionic groups to macromolecular chains of copolymers to construct novel copolymer hydrogels with anti-protein-fouling performance that could be used as soft contact lens (SCL) materials. Using hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA), N-vinyl pyrrolidinone (NVP) and sulfobetaine methacrylate (SBMA) as comonomers, several copolymer hydrogels with different SBMA contents, poly(HEMA-NVP-SBMA), are synthesized via radical copolymerization in an aqueous phase. Surface chemistry, structural morphologies, water contact angle (WCA), equilibrium water content (EWC), visible light transmittance and tensile mechanical properties are investigated. The prepared hydrogels exhibit a closed-type porous structure. With increasing SBMA content in the comonomer mixture, the prepared copolymer hydrogel pore size gradually increases up to the micron level, WCA tends to decrease, EWC tends to increase, and visible light transmittance slightly increases, but their tensile mechanical properties decline. The amounts of protein Lyz and BSA adsorbed on the copolymer hydrogels and on commercially available EASY DAY(®) SCLs as a control are also determined by protein adsorption tests. The amount of protein adsorbed on the copolymer hydrogel decreases with increasing SBMA content. For the hydrogel prepared using the comonomer mixture with 5.0 wt % SBMA, the amount of adsorbed Lyz is 0.91 μg/cm(2), which corresponds to only 56.8% of the amount adsorbed on EASY DAY(®) SCLs. Thus, novel SCL materials with high water content and excellent anti-protein-fouling performance were efficiently constructed by introducing sulfobetaine-type zwitterionic groups into a traditional polymer hydrogel system.