Antibacterial and cytotoxic properties of star-shaped quaternary ammonium-functionalized polymers with different pendant groups

So Young Nam, Jaesung Lee, Seung Su Shin, Hyun Jung Yoo, Myeongji Yun, Seohyun Kim, Ji Hyung Kim, Jung Hyun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The correlation between the structure and biological activity of polymers is critically important for rationally designing effective antibacterial polymers. Here, the antibacterial activity, cytotoxicity, and selectivity of structurally well-defined, star-shaped quaternary ammonium polymers (S-QARs) containing various pendant groups with different carbon numbers (C1-C12) and atom connectivities (aliphatic/aromatic and cyclic/acyclic) were assessed and compared with their linear counterparts (L-QARs). While displaying comparable hemolysis and cell toxicity, S-QAR exhibited slightly stronger and faster antibacterial activity than L-QAR owing to its higher cationic charge/functional group density and greater hydrophobicity, afforded by its constrained and compact chain structure, thereby achieving superior selectivity. Furthermore, the aliphatic acyclic pendant group exhibited the highest antibacterial activity and relatively low mammalian cell toxicity, yielding the highest selectivity, owing to its balanced hydrophilicity/hydrophobicity and proper chain conformation/rigidity. Overall, the star-shaped architecture containing the aliphatic cyclic pendant structure for cationic amphiphilic polymers is highly desirable for effectively preventing bacterial infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1763-1773
Number of pages11
JournalPolymer Chemistry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar 4

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korean government (2019R1A2C1002333) and the Technology Innovation Program (20010914) funded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE, Korea).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Royal Society of Chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Organic Chemistry


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