International journal of biological macromolecules

Modulation of collagen by addition of Hofmeister salts.

PMID 26014138


Collagen can be modified by addition of chaotropic or kosmotropic salts of the reversed Hofmeister series. Hence, telopeptide-poor collagen type I was suspended in H2SO4 (pH 2) and 0.05-0.5 M KCl and KNO3 (chaotropes), as well as KI and KSCN (kosmotropes). Rheological parameters, including storage and loss modulus, intrinsic viscosity, and critical overlap concentration, were assessed and the microstructure was characterized by applying confocal laser scanning microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. The addition of up to 0.1 M KCl and 0.05 M KNO3 increased the intrinsic viscosity from 1.22 to 1.51 L/g without salt to a maximal value of 1.74 L/g and decreased the critical overlap concentration from 0.66 to 0.82 g/L to a minimal value of 0.57 g/L. Higher salt concentrations increased the collagen-collagen interactions due to ions withdrawing the water from the collagen molecules. Hence, 0.1 M KSCN delivered the largest structures with the highest structure factor, area value and the highest critical overlap concentration with 17.6 L/g. Overall, 0.5 M salt led to salting out, with chaotropes forming fine precipitates and kosmotropes leading to elastic three-dimensional networks. The study demonstrated that collagen entanglement and microstructure depend strongly on the ionic strength and type of salt.