Effect of Hydrophobic Groups on Antimicrobial and Hemolytic Activity: Developing a Predictive Tool for Ternary Antimicrobial Polymers

Pham Thu Phuong, Susan Oliver, Junchen He, Edgar H.H. Wong, Robert T. Mathers, Cyrille Boyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Antimicrobial polymers have emerged as a potential solution to the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance. Although several studies have examined the effects of various parameters on the antimicrobial and hemolytic activity of statistical copolymers, there are still numerous parameters to be explored. Therefore, in this study, we developed a library of 36 statistical amphiphilic ternary copolymers prepared via photoinduced electron transfer-reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer polymerization to systematically evaluate the influence of hydrophobic groups [number of carbons (5, 7, and 9)] and chain type of the hydrophobic monomer (cyclic, aromatic, linear, or branched), monomer ratio, and degree of polymerization (DPn) on antimicrobial and hemolytic activity. To guide our synthetic strategy, we developed a pre-experimental screening approach using C log P values of oligomer models, which correspond to the logarithm of the partition coefficient of compounds between n-octanol and water. This method enabled correlation of polymer hydrophobicity with antimicrobial and hemolytic activity. In addition, this study revealed that minimizing hydrophobicity and hydrophobic content were key factors in controlling hemolysis, whereas optimizing antimicrobial activity was more complex. High antimicrobial activity required hydrophobicity (i.e., C log P, hydrophobicity index) that was neither too high nor too low, an appropriate cationic/hydrophobic balance, and structural compatibility between the chosen monomers. Furthermore, these findings could guide the design of future antimicrobial ternary copolymers and suggest that C log P values between 0 and 2 have the best balance of high antimicrobial activity and low hemolytic activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5241-5255
Number of pages15
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 14 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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