Analysis of N-acetyl cysteine modified polydimethylsiloxane shunt for improved treatment of hydrocephalus

Saja Al-Saloum, Mira Zaranek, Jeff Horbatiuk, Pranav Gopalakrishnan, Andrea Dumitrescu, James P. McAllister, Carolyn A. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A major cause of hydrocephalus shunt failure is cell adhesion and obstruction of shunt catheter holes. An estimated 50% of pediatric shunts fail in the first 2 years of insertion, decreasing cell attachment and catheter obstruction can prolong the lifetime and effectiveness of the device. From previous studies, it was shown that treatment of the polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) surface of a standard catheter with an N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC/1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylanimopropyl)carbodiimide hydrochloride/N-hydroxysuccinimide) layer increases the wettability of the surface and has been shown to decrease cell adhesion. Other studies indicate that NAC's antioxidant behavior induces glutathione and in turn modulates cell inflammatory pathways. The current study explores the longevity of the NAC coating from the surface of the catheter over time and shows its effect on valve function. Using SEM imaging, contact angle testing, and nanodrop spectrophotometry, this release was quantified for shunt samples incubated for 0, 10, 30, 60, and 90 days. Contact angle showed a significant increase in wettability of the surface when shunts were treated with NAC, confirming successful surface modification. Pressure assays determined that if the coating is release it had no detrimental downstream effects, such as on the shunt valve mechanism. SEM imaging revealed slight deformations in surface coating indicative of salt deposition on the modified shunt samples, while nanodrop spectrophotometry and contact angle data trends suggested some discharge of the NAC coating from the catheter surfaces. The effects of NAC on cell activity may transform the way hydrocephalus is treated in the future by increasing the longevity of the shunt to protect from obstruction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1177-1187
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part B Applied Biomaterials
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • NAC (N-acetyl-L-cysteine)
  • catheter
  • hydrocephalus
  • release


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