Betaine analogues and related compounds for biomedical applications
Thesis DisciplineChemical Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Living cells accumulate compensatory solutes for protection against the harmful effects of extreme environmental conditions such as high salinity, temperature and desiccation. Even at high concentrations these solutes do not disrupt the normal cellular functions and at times counteract by stabilizing the cellular components. These properties of compensatory solutes have been exploited for stabilizing proteins and cells in vitro. Betaines are widespread natural compensatory solutes that have also been used in other applications such as therapeutic agents and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) enhancers. Some biomedical applications of novel synthetic analogues of natural betaines were investigated. Natural compensatory solutes are either dipolar zwitterionic compounds or polyhydroxyl compounds, and the physical basis of compensation may differ between these, so one focus was on synthetic betaines with hydroxyl substituents. The majority of the synthetic solutes stabilized different model proteins against stress factors such as high and low temperatures. The presence of hydroxyl groups improved protection against desiccation. The observed stabilization effect is not just on the catalytic activity of the enzyme, but also on its structural conformation. Synthetic compensatory solutes have a potential application as protein stabilizers. Dimethylthetin was evaluated as a therapeutic agent and found to be harmful in a sheep model. However, from the study we were able to generate a large-animal continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) model and showed that glycine betaine could be added to the dialysis fluid in chronic renal failure. Some synthetic compensatory solutes reduce the melting temperatures of DNA better than most natural solutes. Synthetic solutes were identified that have potential to enhance PCR and could replace some reagents marketed by commercial suppliers. Density, viscosity and molecular model data on the solutes showed correlations with the biochemical effects of the solutes, but no physical measurements were found that reliably predicted their potential for biotechnological applications.