Consequences of poly(ethylene oxide) and poloxamer P188 on transcription in healthy and stressed myoblasts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) and poloxamers, a class of poly(ethylene oxide)-b-poly(propylene oxide)-b-poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO-PPO-PEO) triblock copolymers, have many personal and medical care applications, including the stabilization of stressed cellular membranes. Despite the widespread use, the cellular transcriptional response to these molecules is relatively unknown. C2C12 myoblasts, a model muscle cell, were subjected to short-term Poloxamer 188 (P188) and PEO181 (8,000 g/mol) treatment in culture. RNA was extracted and sequenced to quantify transcriptomic impact. The addition of moderate concentrations (14 µM) of either polymer to unstressed cells caused substantial differential gene expression, including at least twofold modulation of 357 and 588 genes, respectively. In addition, evaluation of the transcriptome response to osmotic stress without polymer treatment revealed dramatic change in RNA expression. Interestingly, the addition of polymer to stressed cells—at concentrations that provide physiological protection—did not yield a significant difference in expression of any gene relative to stress alone. Genome-scale expression analysis was corroborated by single-gene quantitative real-time PCR. Changes in protein expression were measured via western blot, which revealed partial alignment with the RNA results. Collectively, the significant changes to expression of multiple genes and resultant protein translation demonstrates an unexpectedly broad biochemical response to these polymers in healthy myoblasts in vitro. Meanwhile, the lack of substantial transcriptional response to polymer treatment in stressed cells highlights the physical nature of that protective mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2219885120
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number118
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 the Author(s).


  • amphiphilic polymer
  • cellular response
  • polymer-cell interaction
  • transcriptome

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


Dive into the research topics of 'Consequences of poly(ethylene oxide) and poloxamer P188 on transcription in healthy and stressed myoblasts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this