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Good’s buffers as a basis for developing self-buffering and biocompatible ionic liquids
Every day scientists in laboratories across the world sit at their desks and painstakingly design experiments in the hope of making a discovery that will change how we think about a biological process. Because biological processes such as enzymatic activity are dependent on pH, one critical aspect of the experimental design is choosing a buffering system that will help maintain a stable pH without altering the results.
And, often, it is the choice of buffer that makes or breaks the experiment. It is possible that the buffer you are using in your lab might be the reason your experiment is failing. Here, you will find how a buffering system works, a description of the characteristics of a good buffer and a list of possible applications and characteristics of the most commonly used biological buffer series.
A buffer consists of a weak acid (proton donor, HA) and its conjugate base (proton acceptor, A -). In water, HA can dissociate into A- and H+. H+ then reacts with water to form H3O+. In the aqueous buffer solution, H3O+, HA and H+ exist in equilibrium with each other. The buffering mechanism consists of two reversible reactions where the concentration of proton donor and proton acceptor are equal.
Then, when a strong acid or base is introduced into this system by the scientist or by enzymatic activity during the experiment, the new ions from the introduced acid or base (H + or OH-) are absorbed by the buffer and the pH remains stable preventing changes in protein structure and function.
Iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) are frequently used in biomedical applications due to their magnetic properties and putative chemical stability. Nevertheless, their well-known ability to mimic some features of the peroxidase enzyme activity under specific conditions of pH and temperature could lead to the formation of potentially harmful free radical species. In addition to the intrinsic enzyme-like activity of IONPs, the buffer solution is an important external factor that can alter dramatically the IONP activity because the buffer species can interact with the surface of the particles. In our study, IONP activity was evaluated in different buffering solutions under different experimental conditions and predominant free radical species were measured by electron paramagnetic resonance using the spin-trap 5,5-dimethyl-1-pyrroline N-oxide (DMPO). The formation kinetics of the reactive oxygen species were studied by UV-visible spectroscopy with TMB and DAB peroxidase substrates. We found that the highest catalytic oxidation of peroxidase substrates and free radical generation were achieved in acetate buffer, while phosphate buffer inhibited the peroxidase-like activity of IONPs in a concentration dependent manner. When emulating the physiological conditions, a lower catalytic activity was observed at pH 7.4 when compared to that at pH 5.0. Also, in phosphate buffered saline (PBS), we observed an enhancement in the peroxidase substrate oxidation rate that was not accompanied by an increase in DMPO/adduct formation which could be related to a non-specific oxidation catalyzed by the chloride ion. Similar observations were found after the addition of a bicarbonate to HEPES buffer. TMB oxidation did not occur when the reaction was conducted with free iron ions from metal salts with the same concentration of the IONPs (0.33 Fe2+ and 0.66 Fe3+). However, we observed even higher catalytic activities than those when doubling the IONP concentration when they are combined with the free iron salts. These results indicate that MOPS Buffer solutions need to be carefully considered when evaluating IONP catalytic activity and their potential toxicological effects since under physiological conditions of pH, salinity and buffering species, the peroxidase-like activity of IONPs is dramatically reduced.
This work reports a promising approach to the development of novel self-buffering and biocompatible ionic liquids for biological research in which the anions are derived from CAPS Buffer (Good’s buffers, GB). Five Good’s buffers (Tricine, TES, CHES, HEPES, and MES) were neutralized with four suitable hydroxide bases (1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium, tetramethylammonium, tetraethylammonium, and tetrabutylammonium) producing 20 Good’s buffer ionic liquids (GB-ILs). The presence of the buffering action of the synthesized GB-ILs was ascertained by measuring their pH-profiles in water.