HomeDrug DeliveryPolyethylene Glycol (PEG) Selection Guide

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) Selection Guide

Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)

Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)

What is Polyethylene Glycol?

Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) is a synthetic, hydrophilic, biocompatible polymer with widespread use in biomedical and other applications. PEGs are synthesized using a ring-opening polymerization of ethylene oxide to produce a broad range of molecular weights and molecular weight distributions (polydispersity); however, discrete PEGs (dPEG® reagents) are synthesized with a single, specific molecular weight. PEGs can be synthesized in linear, branched, Y-shaped, or multi-arm geometries. PEGs can be activated by the replacement of the terminal hydroxyl end group with a variety of reactive functional end groups enabling crosslinking and conjugation chemistries.

How is Polyethylene Glycol used?

PEGs are non-toxic, FDA-approved, generally nonimmunogenic, and are frequently used in many biomedical applications including bioconjugation,1 drug delivery,2,3 surface functionalization,4 and tissue engineering.5 Bioconjugation with PEG (also known as PEGylation) is the covalent conjugation of drug targets such as peptides, proteins, or oligonucleotides with PEG for the optimization of pharmacokinetic properties.6 In drug delivery, PEGs can be used as linkers for antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs)7 or as a surface coating on nanoparticles to improve systemic drug delivery.6 PEG hydrogels are water-swollen, three-dimensional, polymer networks resistant to protein adhesion and biodegradation.8 PEG hydrogels are produced by crosslinking reactive PEG end groups and are commonly used in tissue engineering and drug delivery.

Find the right PEG for Your Research Application

Four general characteristics are considered when selecting PEGs for bioconjugation, drug delivery and tissue engineering research applications:

Common functional groups and their corresponding reactive groups are listed in the table below.

⤒1-Ethyl-3-[3-dimethylaminopropyl]carbodiimide hydrochloride)
Featured PEG Products


Hermanson GT. 2013. Bioconjugate Techniques,. Burlington, Elsevier Science.
Translating Polymer Science for Drug Delivery; PDDT. 2015. Translating Polymer Science for Drug Delivery; . Aldrich Materials Science: Milwaukee, WI,.
Parveen S, Sahoo SK. 2011. Long circulating chitosan/PEG blended PLGA nanoparticle for tumor drug delivery. European Journal of Pharmacology. 670(2-3):372-383.
Manson J, Kumar D, Meenan BJ, Dixon D. 2011. Erratum to: Polyethylene glycol functionalized gold nanoparticles: the influence of capping density on stability in various media. Gold Bull. 44(3):195-196.
Fairbanks BD, Schwartz MP, Bowman CN, Anseth KS. 2009. Photoinitiated polymerization of PEG-diacrylate with lithium phenyl-2,4,6-trimethylbenzoylphosphinate: polymerization rate and cytocompatibility. Biomaterials. 30(35):6702-6707.
Suk JS, Xu Q, Kim N, Hanes J, Ensign LM. 2016. PEGylation as a strategy for improving nanoparticle-based drug and gene delivery. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. 9928-51.
Jain N, Smith SW, Ghone S, Tomczuk B. 2015. Current ADC Linker Chemistry. Pharm Res. 32(11):3526-3540.
Hoffman AS. 2002. Adv. Drug Deliv. Rev.. 54(1), 3-12.