Extended characterization of a new class of membranes for blood purification: The high cut-off membranes

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High cut-off membranes are a new class of blood purification membranes whose particular characteristics present challenges for commonly-used characterization methods. Dextran sieving curves for representative blood purification membranes of the high-flux and high cut-off types were measured and compared to curves for the glomerular filtration barrier (GFB). The performance was also determined after blood exposure for the most permeable synthetic membranes. High cut-off membranes were observed to be more open than the GFB before blood exposure, but become tighter and more selective after the exposure, keeping the permeation for low and middle molecules while restraining the filtration of large species.

Based on dextran sieving experiments for a variety of commercially available blood purification membranes, we present a novel method for classifying blood purification membranes. By using a well-established technique and introducing a new characteristic parameter for the sieving curve - the molecular weight retention onset (MWRO) - a graph of molecular weight cut-off versus molecular weight retention onset provides the landscape of dialysis membrane types. This meaningful representation is based on only one in vitro method, and allows the membrane classification by indirectly considering two structural parameters: pore size and pore size distribution. In this way, the families of low-flux, high-flux, protein leaking, and high cut-off membranes are clearly differentiated. The differentiation allows for the definition of MWCO/MWRO regions for the different types, so that further classification of newly developed membranes can be easily achieved.

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