Synthesis of Guanidinium Functionalized Polycarbodiimides and Their Antibacterial Activities

A family of guanidinium-side-chain functionalized polycarbodiimides has been synthesized by allowing an azido guanidinium salt to react with alkyne polycarbodiimides via the copper catalyzed [3 + 2] cycloaddition (Click) reaction. Poly-2(ad) are cationic/amphiphilic polymers in which the global hydrophilic/hydrophobic balance has been tailored by local alteration of the length of alkyl side chain in the repeat unit of polymers prior to polymerization. The shorter alkyl chains yield water-soluble polymers, Poly-2c, -2d, and -2e. Antibacterial activities of these cationic polycarbodiimides have been investigated for Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria that include Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Escherichia coli, and Acinetobacter baumannii. It was observed that the influence of hydrophobic–hydrophilic balance per repeat unit of these polymers have profound effects for both antimicrobial and hemolytic activities. In addition, these polycarbodiimide-guanidinium-triazole conjugates offered moderate to significant antibacterial activity and rapid interaction with red blood cells causing blood precipitation without significant hemolysis in case of Poly-2(be). This latter property has the potential to be exploited in the polymer coatings or wound protection.