Interpretation of protein adsorption: surface-induced conformational changes

J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Jun 8;127(22):8168-73. doi: 10.1021/ja042898o.


Protein adhesion plays a major role in determining the biocompatibility of materials. The first stage of implant integration is the adhesion of protein followed by cell attachment. Surface modification of implants (surface chemistry and topography) to induce and control protein and cell adhesion is currently of great interest. This communication presents data on protein adsorption (bovine serum albumin and fibrinogen) onto model hydrophobic (CH(3)) and hydrophilic (OH) surfaces, investigated using a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) and grazing angle infrared spectroscopy. Our data suggest that albumin undergoes adsorption via a single step whereas fibrinogen adsorption is a more complex, multistage process. Albumin has a stronger affinity toward the CH(3) compared to OH terminated surface. In contrast, fibrinogen adheres more rapidly to both surfaces, having a slightly higher affinity toward the hydrophobic surface. Conformational assessment of the adsorbed proteins by grazing angle infrared spectroscopy (GA-FTIR) shows that after an initial 1 h incubation few further time-dependent changes are observed. Both proteins exhibited a less organized secondary structure upon adsorption onto a hydrophobic surface than onto a hydrophilic surface, with the effect observed greatest for albumin. This study demonstrates the ability of simple tailor-made monochemical surfaces to influence binding rates and conformation of bound proteins through protein-surface interactions. Current interest in biocompatible materials has focused on surface modifications to induce rapid healing, both of implants and for wound care products. This effect may also be of significance at the next stage of implant integration, as cell adhesion occurs through the surface protein layer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Alcohols / chemistry
  • Alkanes / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible / chemistry*
  • Fibrinogen / chemistry*
  • Gold / chemistry
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Protein Conformation
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / chemistry*
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds / chemistry
  • Surface Properties
  • Wettability


  • Alcohols
  • Alkanes
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • Gold
  • Fibrinogen