Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dorne Yager


A characteristic feature of chronic wounds is a prolonged inflammatory response as well as susceptibility to infection. Studies have shown that during the inflammatory response, there is a significant increase in the levels of neutrophil-derived enzymes. The purpose of this work was to determine whether the anionic macromolecule polystyrene sulfonate (PSS) and five of its salt forms, namely PSS-calcium, PSS-chlorhexidine, PSS-doxycycline, PSS-glutathione and PSS-silver are able to inhibit the activity of three of the enzymes whose levels are elevated in chronic wounds: elastase, cathepsin G and myeloperoxidase. In addition to the enzyme inhibition study, the various formulations’ antimicrobial properties were analyzed by evaluating their ability to inhibit the growth of three common clinical isolates: Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumanii. It is worthy to note that the structure of PSS makes it a very flexible platform to which other molecules can be added in order to address a variety of “targets” as well as tailor quantitative strength. The results from this project showed that purified PSS and the various salt derivatives were able to inhibit elastase and cathepsin G activity. In addition, three of the therapeutic cations attached to PSS: silver, doxycycline and chlorhexidine retained their intrinsic antimicrobial properties without having an adverse effect on healthy tissue. In summary, this study demonstrated that PSS possessed an intrinsic ability to inhibit a number of proteases and that it could also be used as a delivery vehicle for other compounds with potential therapeutic value.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2010

Included in

Physiology Commons