Poly(ethylene imine)s as antimicrobial agents with selective activity

Katherine A. Gibney, Iva Sovadinova, Analette I. Lopez, Michael Urban, Zachary Ridgway, Gregory A. Caputo, Kenichi Kuroda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


We report the structure-activity relationship in the antimicrobial activity of linear and branched poly(ethylene imine)s (L- and B-PEIs) with a range of molecular weights (MWs) (500-12000). Both L- and B-PEIs displayed enhanced activity against Staphylococcus aureus over Escherichia coli. Both B- and L-PEIs did not cause any significant permeabilization of E. coli cytoplasmic membrane. L-PEIs induced depolarization of S. aureus membrane although B-PEIs did not. The low MW B-PEIs caused little or no hemolysis while L-PEIs are hemolytic. The low MW B-PEIs are less cytotoxic to human HEp-2 cells than other PEIs. However, they induced significant cell viability reduction after 24 h incubation. The results presented here highlight the interplay between polymer size and structure on activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1279-1289
Number of pages11
JournalMacromolecular Bioscience
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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