Poly(aspartic acid) with adjustable pH-dependent solubility

Csaba Németh, Benjámin Gyarmati, Timur Abdullin, K. László, A. Szilágyi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


Poly(aspartic acid) (PASP) derivatives with adjustable pH-dependent solubility were synthesized and characterized to establish the relationship between their structure and solubility in order to predict their applicability as a basic material for enteric coatings. Polysuccinimide, the precursor of PASP, was modified with short chain alkylamines, and the residual succinimide rings were subsequently opened to prepare the corresponding PASP derivatives. Study of the effect of the type and concentration of the side groups on the pH-dependent solubility of PASP showed that solubility can be adjusted by proper selection of the chemical structure. The Henderson–Hasselbalch (HH) and the extended HH equations were used to describe the pH-dependent solubility of the polymers quantitatively. The estimate provided by the HH equation is poor, but an accurate description of the pH-dependent solubility can be found with the extended HH equation. The dissolution rate of a polymer film prepared from a selected PASP derivative was determined by fluorescence marking. The film dissolved rapidly when the pH was increased above its pKa. Cellular viability tests show that PASP derivatives are non-toxic to a human cell line. These polymers are thus of great interest as starting materials for enteric coatings. Statement of Significance Poly(amino acid) type biocompatible polymers were synthesized for future use as pharmaceutical film coatings. To this end, we tailored the pH-dependent solubility of poly(aspartic acid) (PASP). It was found that both the solubility and the pKa values of the modified PASP depended strongly on composition. Fluorescent marking was used to characterize the dissolution of a chosen PASP derivative. In acidic media only a negligible amount of the polymer dissolved, but dissolution was very fast and complete at the pH values that prevail in the small intestine. As a consequence, enteric coatings based on such PASP derivatives may be used for drug delivery in the gastrointestinal tract.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-494
Number of pages9
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Biopolymers
  • Enteric coatings
  • pH-dependent solubility
  • Poly(aspartic acid)
  • Solubility models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology

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