Innovative Materials

Development of sulfated biodegradable polymers with anti-inflammatory potential

Magda Ferraro1, Ehsan Mohammadifar1, Kim Silberreis2, Falko Neumann1, Jens Dernedde2 and Rainer Haag1

1Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Freie Universität Berlin, Takustr. 3, 14195, Berlin, GER

2Institute of Laboratory Medicine Clinical Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry, Charite-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, CVK Augustenburger Platz 1, 13353, Berlin, GER

Inflammatory responses generally represent a beneficial mechanism that the body initiates when a harmful situation is recognized. However, these processes become dysregulated in case of chronic inflammation and therefore harmful. The investigation of the recruitment of leukocytes to the site of inflammation has demonstrated that the process is regulated by different cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) and that the family of selectins play a pivotal role. 1 Based on the fact that the largely used anticoagulant heparin displays some anti-inflammatory properties, synthetic polymers have been investigated concerning to the possibility of mimicking it. In particular, dendritic polyglycerol sulfate (dPGS) has emerged as a compound which holds the desired characteristics. 2 However, due to a lack of biodegradability, this polymer tends to accumulate in organs such as the spleen and liver. 3 We have therefore developed a new system based on a polymer with enhanced biodegradability, thanks to the presence of ester bonds. 4 These new polymers have been investigated regarding their physical and chemical properties by NMR, GPC, DLS and Zeta-Potential measurements. The determination of IC50 values for the interaction with L-selectin ligands has indicated that the new system displays a comparable performance to that of dPGS, also regarding the inhibition of the complement system. Furthermore, the degradation in the presence of an esterase enzyme (HLE) has been observed. All these aspects suggest that these new polymers with biodegradable bonds have the potential to perform as anti-inflammatory agents.


  1. N. A. Raffler, J. Rivera-Nieves, K. Ley, Drug Discov. Today Ther. Strateg. 2005, 2, 213–220.

  2. H. Türk, R. Haag, S. Alban, Bioconjugate Chem. 2004, 15, 162–167.

  3. K. Pant, D. Gröger, R. Bergmann, J. Pietzsch, J. Steinbach, B. Graham, L. Spiccia, F. Berthon, B. Czarny, L. Devel, et al., Bioconjugate Chem. 2015, 26, 906–918.

  4. E. Mohammadifar, F. Zabihi, Z. Tu, S. Hedtrich, A. Nemati Kharat, M. Adeli, R. Haag, Polym. Chem. 2017, DOI 10.1039/C7PY01470H.