Volumetric interpretation of protein adsorption: Competition from mixtures and the Vroman effect

Hyeran Noh, Erwin A. Vogler

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A Vroman-like exchange of different proteins adsorbing from a concentrated mixture to the same hydrophobic adsorbent surface is shown to arise naturally from the selective pressure imposed by a fixed interfacial-concentration capacity (w/v, mg/mL) for which protein molecules compete. A size (molecular weight, MW) discrimination results because fewer large proteins are required to accumulate an interfacial w/v concentration equal to smaller proteins. Hence, the surface region becomes dominated by smaller proteins on a number-or-mole basis through a purely physical process that is essentially unrelated to protein biochemistry. Under certain conditions, this size discrimination can be amplified by the natural variation in protein-adsorption avidity (quantified by partition coefficients P) because smaller proteins (MW<50 kDa) have been found to exhibit characteristically higher P than larger proteins (MW<50 kDa). The standard depletion method is implemented to measure protein-adsorption competition between two different test proteins (i and j) for the same hydrophobic octyl sepharose adsorbent particles. SDS-gel electrophoresis is used as a multiplexing, separation-and-quantification tool for this purpose. Identical results obtained using sequential and simultaneous competition of human immunoglobulin G (IgG, protein j) with human serum albumin (HSA, protein i) demonstrates that HSA was not irreversibly adsorbed to octyl sepharose over a broad range of competing solution concentrations. A clearly observed exchange of HSA for IgG or fibrinogen (Fib) shows that adsorption of different proteins (i competing with j) to the same hydrophobic surface is coupled whereas adsorption among identical proteins (i or j adsorbing from purified solution) is not coupled. Interpretive theory shows that this adsorption coupling is due to competition for the fixed surface capacity. Theory is extended to hypothetical ternary mixtures using a computational experiment that illustrates the profound impact size-discrimination has on adsorption from complex mixtures such as blood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-422
Number of pages18
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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