Poloxamer 188, a triblock copolymer of poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) and poly(propylene oxide) (PPO), protects cellular membranes from various stresses. Though numerous block copolymer variants exist, evaluation of alternative architecture, composition, and size has been minimal. Herein, cultured murine myoblasts are exposed to the stresses of hypotonic shock and isotonic recovery, and membrane integrity was evaluated by quantifying release of lactate dehydrogenase. Comparative evaluation of a systematic set of PEO-PPO diblock and PEO-PPO-PEO triblock copolymers demonstrates that the diblock architecture can be protective in vitro. Short PPO blocks hinder protection with >9 PPO units needed for protection at 150 μM and >16 units needed at 14 μM. Addition of a tert-butyl end group enhances protection at reduced concentration. When the end group and PPO length are fixed, increasing the PEO length improves protection. This systematic evaluation establishes a new in vitro screening tool for evaluating membrane-sealing amphiphiles and provides mechanistic insight to guide future copolymer design for membrane stabilization in vivo.
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This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (R01 HL122323).
© 2017 American Chemical Society.