Regioselective Synthesis of Polysaccharide-based Polyelectrolytes

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Virginia Tech

Polysaccharides are one of the most abundant and diverse families of natural polymers, and have an incredibly wide range of natural functions including structural reinforcement, energy storage, aqueous rheology modification, and communication and identity. Application of native polysaccharides like cellulose as sustainable materials is limited by some inherent drawbacks such as insolubility in common solvents including water, and poor dimensional stability. To increase their functionality and utility, researchers have sought to tailor the chemical and physical properties of cellulose and other polysaccharides using a variety of chemical modification techniques, resulting in a number of important, useful commercial derivatives.

Because of their greater biocompatibility and biodegradability, and low immunogenicity, naturally derived cationic polymers including cationic polysaccharide derivatives are very attractive candidates for biomedical applications, due to the fact that they are capable of binding with anionic biomolecules, such as nucleic acids and certain proteins, via electrostatic interactions. However, there are relatively few practical synthetic methods reported for their preparation. We demonstrated a useful and efficient strategy for cationic polysaccharide salt preparation by reaction of 6-bromo-6-deoxypolysaccharides such as 6-bromo-6-deoxycellulose esters with pyridine or 1-methylimidazole exclusively at the C-6 position, resulting in high degrees of substitution (DSs). These permanently cationic polysaccharide derivatives have been demonstrated to dissolve readily in water, and bind strongly with a hydrophilic and anionic surface. Availability of these cationic polysaccharides will facilitate structure-property relationship studies for biomedical uses including drug delivery and bioelectronics applications. We also extended the chemistry, reacting 6-imidazolo-6-deoxycellulose with propane sultone, leading to a new synthetic pathway to zwitterionic cellulose derivatives.

In addition to cationic and zwitterionic derivatives, we found a simple, efficient route to carboxyl-containing polysaccharide derivatives from curdlan esters via regioselective ring-opening reactions catalyzed by triphenylphosphine (Ph3P) under mild conditions. Curdlan, a polysaccharide used by the food industry and in biomedical applications, was employed as starting material for preparing these carboxyl-containing derivatives by a reaction sequence of bromination, azide displacement and ring-opening reaction with cyclic anhydrides, affording high conversions. These modification techniques have been demonstrated to display essentially complete regio- and chemo-selectivity at C-6. These novel polysaccharide-based materials starting from abundant and inexpensive curdlan are promising for some applications such as amorphous solid dispersion (ASD) oral drug delivery.

polysaccharides, polysaccharide derivatives, regioselective synthesis, polyelectrolytes, Staudinger reactions