Highly ductile corn protein films cross-linked with biobased aldehydes for biomedical and packaging applications
Abstract This research has proved that polyaldehydes derived from sucrose are effective in improving the dry and wet mechanical properties and cytocompatibility of zein films. Zein is a corn-derived storage protein with satisfactory film-forming ability and proven biosafety, and thus has been used in biomedical and food packaging fields. However, under normal conditions, pristine zein films have poor tensile properties in the dry or wet state, and cross-linking is required to improve these properties. Heretofore, most powerful cross-linkers are toxic and environmentally harmful, while safe cross-linkers are less efficient. In this study, zein films were cross-linked with a safe and effective biobased polyaldehydes derived from sucrose. The wet and dry tensile properties of the zein films were improved without compromising their clarity and UV shielding ability. Unexpectedly, cell culture studies showed significantly enhanced cytocompatibility of zein films after polyaldehydes cross-linking. Therefore, polyaldehyde cross-linked zein films with improved properties may serve as potential candidates for biomedical and packaging applications.