Block versus random amphiphilic copolymers as antibacterial agents

Yukari Oda, Shokyoku Kanaoka, Takahiro Sato, Sadahito Aoshima, Kenichi Kuroda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Citations (Scopus)


We examined the antibacterial and hemolytic activities in a series of amphiphilic block and random copolymers of poly(vinyl ether) derivatives prepared by base-assisting living cationic polymerization. Block and random amphiphilic copolymers with similar monomer compositions showed the same level of activity against Escherichia coli. However, the block copolymers are much less hemolytic compared to the highly hemolytic random copolymers. These results indicate that the amphiphilic copolymer structure is a key determinant of activity. Furthermore, the block copolymers induced dye leakage from lipid vesicles consisting of E. coli-type lipids, but not mammalian lipids, while the random copolymers disrupted both types of vesicles. In addition, both copolymers displayed bactericidal and hemolytic activities at concentrations 1 or 2 orders of magnitude lower than their critical (intermolecular) aggregation concentrations (CACs), as determined by light scattering measurements. This suggests that polymer aggregation or macromolecular assembly is not a requisite for the antibacterial activity and selectivity against bacteria over human red blood cells (RBCs). We speculate that different single-chain conformations between the block and random copolymers play an important role in the antibacterial action and underlying antibacterial mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3581-3591
Number of pages11
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 10 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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