Surface treatments of polymers for biocompatibility

Donald L. Elbert, Jeffrey A. Hubbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

465 Scopus citations


Biological recognition mediates cell and tissue interactions with biomaterials, be the materials employed in a biotechnical environment in vitro or a biomedical environment in vivo. These interactions are typically mediated by proteins that have adsorbed to the biomaterial surface. The principles of protein adsorption and biological recognition are described. Polymer surface modifications to reduce protein adsorption upon biomaterial surfaces are summarized, as are modifications to enhance the irreversible adsorption of proteins. Using these approaches, it may be possible to reduce the extent to which the biomaterial surface and the proteinbiomaterial surface are recognized by cells and tissues. Polymer surface modifications to incorporate oligopeptide-, saccharide-, and oligosaccharide-based receptor-binding sequences are described to enable direct binding of cells with the polymer surface. With use of these approaches, it is possible to endow an entirely synthetic material with the biological recognition characteristics of biological macromolecules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-394
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual Review of Materials Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


  • Biomaterial
  • Hydrogel
  • Peptide
  • Poly(ethylene glycol)
  • Saccharide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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