Identification of the biomolecules that form the first adsorbed monolayer, which thus effect "interface conversion", in competitive adsorption from multicomponent biological solutions can be challenging because of limitations in mass resolution and sensitivity of established techniques. In this study matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) time of flight mass spectrometry is developed and applied as a novel surface analytical method to enable analysis of adsorbed multicomponent biomolecule layers directly on the biomaterial surfaces. We show that proteins adsorbed in vivo (on human eyes) on contact lenses can be detected rapidly and conveniently by the diagnostic highly resolved mass signals recorded by MALDI mass spectrometry. This new approach allows detection of minor (and major) proteinaceous constituents of biofouled layers at levels substantially below monolayer coverage. Identification is done by comparison with molecular masses of known proteins. Specifically, it is shown that in addition to lysozyme, other low molecular weight proteins adsorb from human tear fluid onto contact lenses; these proteins had not been detected in earlier studies using other techniques.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.