A pH-responsive mixed-charge polymer consists of uniformly distributed cationic and anionic units in the polymer chain. Carboxylic acid monomers are generally used as anionic monomers. The pH responsive range is confined to a relatively narrow pH of Â5, which is limiting the biological application of pH-responsive polymers. Therefore, we investigated the effect of a series of carboxylic acid and neutral monomers on the pKa value of pH-responsive mixed-charge polymers. We synthesized the polymers using [2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyl]-trimethylammonium chloride, carboxylic acid monomers, and neutral monomers as the spacer moiety. As the monomer hydrophobicity and the composition ratio of neutral monomers increased, the pKa shifted to higher values. Finally, the polymer pKa values were tuned from 4.6 to 6.1. We confirmed that the pH-dependent interaction between anionic tissue constituent and pH-responsive mixed-charge polymers depends on their pKa.
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