It is used as a binder in many pharmaceutical tablets; it simply passes through the body when taken orally. (However, autopsies have found that crospovidone (PVPP) contributes to pulmonary vascular injury in substance abusers who have injected pharmaceutical tablets intended for oral consumption. The long-term effects of crospovidone or povidone within the lung are unknown.)
It is used in pleurodesis (fusion of the pleura because of incessant pleural effusions). For this purpose, povidone iodine is equally effective and safe as talc, and may be preferred because of easy availability and low cost.
PVP is used in some contact lenses and their packaging solutions. It reduces friction, thus acting as a lubricant, or wetting agent, built into the lens. Examples of this use include Bausch & Lomb's Ultra contact lenses with MoistureSeal Technology and Air Optix contact lens packaging solution (as an ingredient called "copolymer 845").
as a liquid-phase dispersion enhancing agent in DOSY NMR
as a surfactant, reducing agent, shape controlling agent and dispersant in nanoparticle synthesis and their self-assembly
as a stabilizing agent in all inorganic solar cells
PVP binds to polar molecules exceptionally well, owing to its polarity. This has led to its application in coatings for photo-quality ink-jet papers and transparencies, as well as in inks for inkjet printers.
In molecular biology, PVP can be used as a blocking agent during Southern blot analysis as a component of Denhardt's buffer. It is also exceptionally good at absorbing polyphenols during DNA purification. Polyphenols are common in many plant tissues and can deactivate proteins if not removed and therefore inhibit many downstream reactions like PCR.
In microscopy, PVP is useful for making an aqueous mounting medium.
PVP can be used to screen for phenolic properties, as referenced in a 2000 study on the effect of plant extracts on insulin production.
Povidone is commonly used in conjunction with other chemicals. Some of these, such as iodine, are blamed for allergic responses, although testing results in some patients show no signs of allergy to the suspect chemical. Allergies attributed to these other chemicals may possibly be caused by the PVP instead.
PVP is soluble in water and other polar solvents. For example, it is soluble in various alcohols, such as methanol and ethanol, as well as in more exotic solvents like the deep eutectic solvent formed by choline chloride and urea (Relin). When dry it is a light flaky hygroscopic powder, readily absorbing up to 40% of its weight in atmospheric water. In solution, it has excellent wetting properties and readily forms films. This makes it good as a coating or an additive to coatings.
A 2014 study found fluorescent properties of PVP and its oxidized hydrolyzate.
PVP was first synthesized by Walter Reppe and a patent was filed in 1939 for one of the derivatives of acetylene chemistry. PVP was initially used as a blood plasma substitute and later in a wide variety of applications in medicine, pharmacy, cosmetics and industrial production.
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