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Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), also commonly called polyvidone or povidone, is a water-soluble polymer made from the monomer N-vinylpyrrolidone



PVP was used as a plasma volume expander for trauma victims after the 1950s.It is not preferred as volume expander due to its ability to provoke histamine release and also interfere with blood grouping.

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.)

PVP added to iodine forms a complex called povidone-iodine that possesses disinfectant properties. This complex is used in various products like solutions, ointment, pessaries, liquid soaps and surgical scrubs. It is known under the trade names Pyodine and Betadine, among a plethora of others.


  • PVP is also used in many technical applications:
  • as an adhesive in glue stick and hot-melt adhesives
  • as a special additive for batteries, ceramics, fiberglass, inks, and inkjet paper, and in the chemical-mechanical planarization process
  • as an emulsifier and disintegrant for solution polymerization
  • to increase resolution in photoresists for cathode ray tubes (CRT)
  • in aqueous metal quenching
  • for production of membranes, such as dialysis and water purification filters
  • as a binder and complexation agent in agricultural applications such as crop protection, seed treatment and coating
  • as a thickening agent in tooth whitening gels
  • as an aid for increasing the solubility of drugs in liquid and semi-liquid dosage forms (syrups, soft gelatine capsules) and as an inhibitor of recrystallisation
  • as an additive to Doro’s RNA extraction buffer
  • 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

Other uses

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.

PVP is also used in personal care products, such as shampoos and toothpastes, in paints, and adhesives that must be moistened, such as old-style postage stamps and envelopes. It has also been used in contact lens solutions and in steel-quenching solutions. PVP is the basis of the early formulas for hair sprays and hair gels, and still continues to be a component of some.

As a food additive, PVP is a stabilizer and has E number E1201. PVPP (crospovidone) is E1202. It is also used in the wine industry as a fining agent for white wine and some beers.

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.