Preparation and Characterization of Biomimetic β-Lens Crystallins Using Single-Chain Polymeric Nanoparticles

Jue Liang, Jessica J. Struckhoff, Paul D. Hamilton, Nathan Ravi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Presbyopia, the inability to focus at arm's length, and cataracts that cloud vision are associated primarily with changes in the mechanical and optical properties of the lens. The optical properties, particularly the refractive index, of the human lens originate from the cytoplasm of the lens fiber, which contains a highly concentrated solution (∼40%) of globular proteins referred to as α, β, and γ crystallins, of which β is the most abundant. In this study, we focus on the synthesis and characterization of a β-crystallin biomimetic in an effort to understand and develop treatments for presbyopia and cataract. Polyacrylamide was used as a protein analogue. The side chains were endowed with aromatic and acidic functionality. Acrylic acid was incorporated into the copolymer and cross-linked with diamines to form nanoparticles. The composition and cross-linking condition of the biomimetic copolymers were optimized to match the hydrodynamic radius (Rh), refractive index, size, density, and intrinsic and dynamic viscosities with those of βhigh lens crystallins. The refractive indices and densities of the nanoparticles' dispersion at different concentrations matched that of βhigh lens crystallins, and the viscosity of the nanoparticles approached that of βhigh lens crystallins. The biocompatibility findings for primary porcine retinal pigment epithelial (ppRPE) cells and porcine lens epithelial (pLE) cells showed both cell types tolerated up to 30 mg/mL of nanoparticles. These materials have the potential for use as replacements for the crystallins in developing an accommodating intraocular lens nanocomposite hydrogel that closely replicates the natural autofocusing ability of the original.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7660-7668
Number of pages9
Issue number31
StatePublished - Aug 8 2017


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