Development of novel oxygen carriers by coupling hemoglobin to functionalized multiwall carbon nanotubes
Preparation of stable and effective artificial oxygen carriers (AOCs) is a promising strategy to temporarily replace transfused blood and solve tissue hypoxia. Developing hemoglobin (Hb) loaded particles is one of the main ways to prepare suitable AOCs. Particles with a hierarchical micro/nanostructure can be loaded with plenty of proteins and have attracted great attention. Therefore, multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were chosen to fabricate AOCs. To improve the Hb-loading capacity of MWCNTs, functionalized MWCNTs, including carboxyl-functionalized MWCNTs (MWCNT-COOH), amino-functionalized MWCNTs (MWCNT-NH2), and heparin-conjugated MWCNTs (MWCNT-Hep), were prepared. Then, in this study, Hb was coupled to the functionalized MWCNTs to fabricate the AOCs. The functionalized MWCNTs and the AOCs were characterized by FTIR, SEM, TEM, and zeta potential analysis. The oxygen/Hb-loading capacity of the AOCs was also measured. The adverse effects of the AOCs on human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and human red blood cells (RBCs) were evaluated. The results showed that (1) the functional groups were grafted on the surface of the MWCNTs, and Hb was bound to the functionalized MWCNTs, thus the AOCs were successfully prepared; (2) MWCNT-Hep-Hb had the most stable dispersibility (i.e., the most negative zeta potential) in 0.9 wt% NaCl solution (MWCNT-Hep-Hb < MWCNT-COOH-Hb < MWCNT-Hb < MWCNT-NH2-Hb < 0); (3) MWCNT-Hep had the best Hb-loading capability, which was three times that of purified MWCNTs; (4) with concentrations increased up to 400 μg mL−1, MWCNT-Hep-Hb still had the highest cell viability (97.63% > 80%, ISO 10993-5:2009) and excellent blood biocompatibility. Therefore, MWCNT-Hep-Hb might be a satisfactory candidate as a blood substitute.