The dopant anion in polypyrrole plays a critical role in determining the physical and chemical properties of these conducting polymers. Here we demonstrate an additional effect on the ability to incorporate and release a neurotrophic protein - neurotrophin-3. The multi-faceted role of the dopant is critical in ensuring optimal performance of polypyrroles in their use as platforms for nerve growth. In this paper, the effect of changing the co-dopant used in electrochemical polypyrrole synthesis on the compatibility with primary auditory nerve tissue is considered and compared to some of the physical properties of the films. Significant differences in the controlled-release properties of the films were also observed. The ability of the polymers to enhance nerve growth and survival in vitro with neurotrophin-3 release was also studied, which is a function of both compatibility with the neural tissue and the ability of the polymer to release sufficient neurotrophic protein to affect cell growth. A small synthetic dopant, para-toluene sulphonate, was found to perform favourably in both aspects and ultimately proved to be the most suitable material for the application at hand, which is the delivery of neurotrophins for inner-ear therapies.
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