Measuring the concentration of protein nanoparticles synthesized by desolvation method: Comparison of Bradford assay, BCA assay, hydrolysis/UV spectroscopy and gravimetric analysis
The desolvation technique is one of the most popular methods for preparing protein nanoparticles for medicine, biotechnology, and food applications. We fabricated 11 batches of BSA nanoparticles and 2 batches of gelatin nanoparticles by desolvation method. BSA nanoparticles from 2 batches were cross-linked by heating at +70 °C for 2 h; other nanoparticles were stabilized by glutaraldehyde. We compared several analytical approaches to measuring their concentration: gravimetric analysis, bicinchoninic acid assay, Bradford assay, and alkaline hydrolysis combined with UV spectroscopy. We revealed that the cross-linking degree and method of cross-linking affect both Bradford and BCA assay. Direct measurement of protein concentration in the suspension of purified nanoparticles by dye-binding assays can lead to significant (up to 50–60%) underestimation of nanoparticle concentration. Quantification of non-desolvated protein (indirect method) is affected by the presence of small nanoparticles in supernatants and can be inaccurate when the yield of desolvation is low. The reaction of cross-linker with protein changes UV absorbance of the latter. Therefore pure protein solution is an inappropriate calibrator when applying UV spectroscopy for the determination of nanoparticle concentration. Our recommendation is to determine the concentration of protein nanoparticles by at least two different methods, including gravimetric analysis.