Metal-phenolic network (MPN) coatings have generated increasing interest owing to their biologically inspired nature, facile fabrication, and near-universal adherence, especially for biomedical applications. However, a key issue in biomedicine is protein fouling, and the adsorption of proteins on tannic acid-based MPNs remains to be comprehensively studied. Herein, we investigate the interaction of specific biomedically relevant proteins in solution (e.g., bovine serum albumin (BSA), immunoglobulin G (IgG), fibrinogen) and complex biological media (serum) using layer-by-layer-assembled tannic acid/FeIII MPN films. When FeIII was the outermost layer, galloyl-modified poly(2-ethyl-2-oxazoline) (P(EtOx)-Gal) could be grafted to the films through coordination bonds. Protein fouling and bacterial adhesion were greatly suppressed after functionalization with P(EtOx)-Gal and the mass of adsorbed protein was reduced by 79%. Interestingly, larger proteins adsorbed more on both the MPNs and P(EtOx)-functionalized MPNs. This study provides fundamental information on the interactions of MPNs with single proteins, mixtures of proteins as encountered in serum, and the noncovalent, coordination-based, functionalization of MPN films.
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