Comparing Protein Adsorption onto Alumina and Silica Nanomaterial Surfaces: Clues for Vaccine Adjuvant Development

January 14, 2021

Protein adsorption onto nanomaterial surfaces is important for various nanobiotechnology applications such as biosensors and drug delivery. Within this scope, there is growing interest to develop alumina- and silica-based nanomaterial vaccine adjuvants and an outstanding need to compare protein adsorption onto alumina- and silica-based nanomaterial surfaces. Herein, using alumina- and silica-coated arrays of silver nanodisks with plasmonic properties, we conducted localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) experiments to evaluate real-time adsorption of bovine serum albumin (BSA) protein onto alumina and silica surfaces. BSA monomers and oligomers were prepared in different water–ethanol mixtures and both adsorbing species consistently showed quicker adsorption kinetics and more extensive adsorption-related spreading on alumina surfaces as compared to on silica surfaces. We rationalized these experimental observations in terms of the electrostatic forces governing protein–surface interactions on the two nanomaterial surfaces and the results support that more rigidly attached BSA protein-based coatings can be formed on alumina-based nanomaterial surfaces. Collectively, the findings in this study provide fundamental insight into protein–surface interactions at nanomaterial interfaces and can help to guide the development of protein-based coatings for medical and biotechnology applications such as vaccines.


Hyeonjin Park, Gamaliel Junren Ma, Bo Kyeong Yoon, Nam-Joon Cho and Joshua A. Jackman

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