Trehalose Glycopolymers as Excipients for Protein Stabilization

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Lee J., Lin E., Lau U. Y., Hedrick J. L., Bat E., Maynard H. D.

BIOMACROMOLECULES, vol.14, no.8, pp.2561-2569, 2013 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 14 Issue: 8
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Doi Number: 10.1021/bm4003046
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.2561-2569
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


Herein, the synthesis of four different trehalose glycopolymers and investigation of their ability to stabilize proteins to heat and lyophilization stress are described. The disaccharide, alpha,alpha-trehalose, was modified with a styrenyl acetal, methacrylate acetal, styrenyl ether, or methacrylate moiety resulting in four different monomers. These monomers were then separately polymerized using free radical polymerization with azobisisobutyronitrile (AIBN) as an initiator to synthesize the glycopolymers. Horseradish peroxidase and glucose oxidase were incubated at 70 and 50 degrees C, respectively, and beta-galactosidase was lyophilized multiple times in the presence of various ratios of the polymers or trehalose. The protein activities were subsequently tested and found to be significantly higher when the polymers were present during the stress compared to no additive and to equivalent amounts of trehalose. Different molecular weights (10 kDa, 20 kDa, and 40 kDa) were tested, and all were equivalent in their stabilization ability. However, some subtle differences were observed regarding stabilization ability between the different polymer samples, depending on the stress. Small molecules such as benzyl ether trehalose were not better stabilizers than trehalose, and the trehalose monomer decreased protein activity, suggesting that hydrophobized trehalose was not sufficient and that the polymeric structure was required. In addition, cytotoxicity studies with NIH 3T3 mouse embryonic fibroblast cells, RAW 264.7 murine macrophages, human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs), and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were conducted with polymer concentrations up to 8 mg/mL. The data showed that all four polymers were noncytotoxic for all tested concentrations. The results together suggest that trehalose glycopolymers are promising as additives to protect proteins from a variety of stressors.