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Keywords:

  • polycations;
  • immobilization;
  • microbicidal materials;
  • fibers;
  • cotton;
  • molecular weight of polymers

Abstract

Our previous studies have led to a novel “nonrelease” approach to making materials bactericidal by covalently attaching certain moderately hydrophobic polycations to their surfaces. In the present work, this strategy is extended beyond the heretofore-used nonporous materials to include common woven textiles (cotton, wool, nylon, and polyester). Pieces of such cloths derivatized with N-hexylated+methylated high-molecular-weight polyethylenimine (PEI) are strongly bactericidal against several airborne Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. In contrast, the immobilized and N-alkylated PEIs of low molecular weight have only a weak, if any, bactericidal activity. These findings support a mechanism of the antibacterial action whereby high-molecular-weight and hydrophobic polycationic chains penetrate bacterial cell membranes/walls and fatally damage them. The bactericidal textiles prepared herein are lethal not only to pathogenic bacteria but to fungi as well. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biotechnol Bioeng 83: 168–172, 2003.