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1.  Adriamycin release from poly(lactide-co-glycolide)-polyethylene glycol nanoparticles: synthesis, and in vitro characterization 
The preparation, properties, and application in adriamycin delivery of biocompatible and biodegradable poly(lactide-co-glycolide)-polyethylene glycol (PLGA-PEG) nanoparticles are discussed. PLGA-PEG copolymers were synthesized by ring opening polymerization of the dl-lactide and glycolide in the presence of PEG1000.1H-NMR and FT-IR spectrum were consistent with the structure of PLGA-PEG copolymers. The adriamycin-loaded nanoparticles could be prepared using a precipitation-solvent evaporation technique. The nanoparticles have been produced by a precipitation-solvent evaporation technique. The physical characteristics and drug loading efficiency of the PLGA-PEG nanoparticles were influenced by the composition of the PLGA-PEG copolymers used to prepare the nanoparticles. Particle sizes were between 65 and 100 nm for different compositions of PLGA-PEG copolymers. PLGA-PEG nanoparticles prepared from copolymers having relatively high PLGA/PEG ratios were smaller. Entrapment efficiency was 25%–33%. Adriamycin release from the nanoparticles at pH 7.4 showed an initial burst release and then sustained release phase. These results showed that PLGA-PEG nanoparticles could be an effective carrier for cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC2676638  PMID: 17722284
adriamycin; PLGA-PEG copolymers; cancer therapy; drug delivery systems
2.  Acid-triggered core cross-linked nanomicelles for targeted drug delivery and magnetic resonance imaging in liver cancer cells 
To research the acid-triggered core cross-linked folate-poly(ethylene glycol)-b-poly[N-(N′,N′-diisopropylaminoethyl) glutamine] (folated-PEG-P[GA-DIP]) amphiphilic block copolymer for targeted drug delivery and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in liver cancer cells.
As an appropriate receptor of protons, the N,N-diisopropyl tertiary amine group (DIP) was chosen to conjugate with the side carboxyl groups of poly(ethylene glycol)-b-poly (L-glutamic acid) to obtain PEG-P(GA-DIP) amphiphilic block copolymers. By ultrasonic emulsification, PEG-P(GA-DIP) could be self-assembled to form nanosized micelles loading doxorubicin (DOX) and superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) in aqueous solution. When PEG-P(GA-DIP) nanomicelles were combined with folic acid, the targeted effect of folated-PEG-P(GA-DIP) nanomicelles was evident in the fluorescence and MRI results.
To further increase the loading efficiency and the cell-uptake of encapsulated drugs (DOX and SPIONs), DIP (pKa≈6.3) groups were linked with ~50% of the side carboxyl groups of poly(L-glutamic acid) (PGA), to generate the core cross-linking under neutral or weakly acidic conditions. Under the acidic condition (eg, endosome/lysosome), the carboxyl groups were neutralized to facilitate disassembly of the P(GA-DIP) blocks’ cross-linking, for duly accelerating the encapsulated drug release. Combined with the tumor-targeting effect of folic acid, specific drug delivery to the liver cancer cells and MRI diagnosis of these cells were greatly enhanced.
Acid-triggered and folate-decorated nanomicelles encapsulating SPIONs and DOX, facilitate the targeted MRI diagnosis and therapeutic effects in tumors.
PMCID: PMC3746790  PMID: 23976852
acid-triggered; DOX; nanomicelle carrier; folate-targeted effect; SPIONs
3.  Effects of pH-sensitive chain length on release of doxorubicin from mPEG-b-PH-b-PLLA nanoparticles 
Two methoxyl poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(L-histidine)-poly(L-lactide) (mPEG-PH-PLLA) triblock copolymers with different poly(L-histidine) chain lengths were synthesized. The morphology and biocompatibility of these self-assembled nanoparticles was investigated.
Doxorubicin, an antitumor drug, was trapped in the nanoparticles to explore their drug-release behavior. The drug-loaded nanoparticles were incubated with HepG2 cells to evaluate their antitumor efficacy in vitro. The effects of poly(L-histidine) chain length on the properties, drug-release behavior, and antitumor efficiency of the nanoparticles were investigated.
The nanoparticles were pH-sensitive. The mean diameters of the two types of mPEG-PH- PLLA nanoparticle were less than 200 nm when the pH values were 5.0 and 7.4. The nanoparticles were nontoxic to NIH 3T3 fibroblasts and HepG2 cells. The release of doxorubicin at pH 5.0 was much faster than that at pH 7.4. The release rate of mPEG45-PH15-PLLA82 nanoparticles was much faster than that of mPEG45-PH30-PLLA82 nanoparticles at pH 5.0.
The inhibition effect of mPEG45-PH15-PLLA82 nanoparticles on the growth of HepG2 cells was greater than that of mPEG45-PH30-PLLA82 nanoparticles when the concentration of encapsulated doxorubicin was less than 15 μg/mL.
PMCID: PMC3423155  PMID: 22923987
poly(ethylene glycol); poly(L-histidine); poly(L-lactide); pH sensitivity; doxorubicin; drug release; nanoparticle
4.  Polymeric nanoparticles conjugate a novel heptapeptide as an epidermal growth factor receptor-active targeting ligand for doxorubicin 
This study was performed to develop a functional poly(D,L-lactide-co-glycolide)- poly(ethylene glycol) (PLGA-PEG)-bearing amino-active end group for peptide conjugation.
Methods and results
PLGA was preactivated following by copolymerization with PEG diamine. The resulting amphiphilic PLGA-PEG copolymer bearing 97.0% of amino end groups had a critical micelle concentration of 3.0 × 10−8 mol/L, and the half-effective inhibition concentration (IC50) of the prepared PLGA-PEG nanoparticles was >100 mg/mL, which was much higher than that of PLGA nanoparticles (1.02 ± 0.37 mg/mL). The amphiphilic properties of PLGA-PEG spontaneously formed a core-shell conformation in the aqueous environment, and this special feature provided the amino group on the PEG chain scattered on the surface of PLGA-PEG nanoparticles for efficient peptide conjugation. The peptide-conjugated PLGA-PEG nanoparticles showed three-fold higher uptake than peptide-free PLGA-PEG nanoparticles in a SKOV3 cell line with high expression of epidermal growth factor receptor. Both peptide-conjugated and peptide-free PLGA-PEG nanoparticles were used as nanocarriers for delivery of doxorubicin. Although the rate of release of doxorubicin from both nanoparticles was similar, drug release at pH 4.0 (500 U lipase) was faster than at pH 7.4. The IC50 of doxorubicin-loaded peptide-conjugated PLGA-PEG nanoparticles in SKOV3 cells (0.05 ± 0.03 μg/mL) was much lower (by 62.4-fold) than that of peptide-free PLGA-PEG nanoparticles (3.12 ± 1.44 μg/mL).
This in vivo biodistribution study in SKOV3 tumor-bearing mice was further promising in that accumulation of doxorubicin in tumor tissue was in the order of peptide-conjugated PLGA-PEG nanoparticles > peptide-free PLGA-PEG nanoparticles > doxorubicin solution.
PMCID: PMC3433327  PMID: 22973097
amphiphilic copolymer; peptide; nanoparticles; SKOV3 cell; doxorubicin
5.  Folate-targeted polymeric micelles loaded with ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide: combined small size and high MRI sensitivity 
Targeted delivery of contrast agents is a highly desirable strategy for enhancing diagnostic efficiency and reducing side effects and toxicity. Water-soluble and tumor-targeting superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) were synthesized by loading hydrophobic SPIONs into micelles assembled from an amphiphilic block copolymer poly(ethylene glycol)- poly(ɛ-caprolactone) (PEG-PCL) bearing folate in the distal ends of PEG chains. Compared to the water-soluble SPIONs obtained by small molecular surfactant coating, ultrasmall SPION encapsulation with PEG-PCL micelles (PEG-PCL-SPIONs) simultaneously increases transverse (r2) and decreases longitudinal (r1) magnetic resonance (MR) relaxivities of water proton in micelle solution, leading to a notably high r2/r1 ratio up to 78, which makes the PEG-PCL-SPIONs a highly sensitive MR imaging (MRI) T2 contrast agent. The mean size of folate-attached SPION micelles (Fa-PEG-PCL-SPIONs) is 44 ± 3 nm on average, ideal for in vivo MRI applications in which long circulation is greatly determined by small particle size and is highly desirable. Prussian blue staining of BEL-7402 cells over-expressing folate receptors, after incubation with micelle-containing medium, demonstrated that folate functionalization of the magnetic particles significantly enhanced their cell uptake. The potential of Fa-PEG-PCL-SPIONs as a potent MRI probe for in vivo tumor detection was assessed. At 3 hours after intravenous injection of the Fa-PEG-PCL-SPION solution into mice bearing subcutaneous xenografts of human BEL-7402 hepatoma, a 41.2% signal intensity decrease was detected in the T2-weighted MR images of the tumor, indicating the efficient accumulation of Fa-PEG-PCL-SPIONs in the tumor tissue.
PMCID: PMC3383322  PMID: 22745549
tumor targeting; magnetic resonance imaging; polymeric micelles; superparamagnetic iron oxide
6.  Suitable carriers for encapsulation and distribution of endostar: comparison of endostar-loaded particulate carriers 
Particulate carriers are necessary to control the release of endostar and prolong its circulation in vivo. The purpose of this study was to identify a suitable carrier for the capsulation and delivery of endostar.
We prepared a series of poly (DL-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) and poly (ethylene glycol) (PEG)-modified PLGA (PEG-PLGA) particulate carriers, and then characterized them according to their ability to prolong the circulation of endostar, their physicochemical properties, endostar-loading content, and in vitro and in vivo particulate carrier release profiles.
All the particulate carriers had spherical core shell structures. The PEG-PLGA material and nanosize range appeared to enable the carriers to encapsulate more endostar, release endostar faster in vitro, and accumulate more endostar in vivo. The drug loading capacity of PEG-PLGA and PLGA nanoparticles was 8.03% ± 3.41% and 3.27% ± 5.26%, respectively, and for PEG-PLGA and PLGA microspheres was 15.32% ± 5.61% and 9.21% ± 4.73%. The cumulative amount of endostar released from the carriers in phosphate-buffered saline over 21 days was 23.79%, 20.45%, 15.13%, and 10.41%, respectively. Moreover, the terminal elimination half-life of endostar in the rabbit was 26.91 ± 7.93 hours and 9.32 ± 5.53 hours in the PEG-PLGA group and the PLGA nanoparticle group. Peak endostar concentration was reached at day 7 in the group treated with subcutaneous injection of PEG-PLGA microspheres and at day 14 in the group receiving subcutaneous injection of PLGA microspheres. Endostar was detectable in vivo in both groups after injection of the particulate carriers.
PEG-PLGA nanoparticles might be better than other nanoparticulate carriers for encapsulation and distribution of endostar.
PMCID: PMC3152471  PMID: 21845043
poly(DL-lactide-co-glycolide); nanoparticle; microsphere; endostar; peptide delivery
7.  Developing a Highly Stable PLGA-mPEG Nanoparticle Loaded with Cisplatin for Chemotherapy of Ovarian Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e25433.
Cisplatin is a potent anticancer drug, but its clinical application has been limited due to its undesirable physicochemical characteristics and severe side effects. Better drug formulations for cisplatin are highly desired.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Herein, we have developed a nanoparticle formulation for cisplatin with high encapsulation efficiency and reduced toxicity by using cisplatin-crosslinked carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) core nanoparticles made from poly(lactide-co-glycolide)-monomethoxy-poly(polyethylene glycol) copolymers (PLGA-mPEG). The nanoparticles have an average diameter of approximately 80 nm measured by transmission electron microscope (TEM). The encapsulation efficiency of cisplatin in the nanoparticles is up to 72%. Meanwhile, we have also observed a controlled release of cisplatin in a sustained manner and dose-dependent treatment efficacy of cisplatin-loaded nanoparticles against IGROV1-CP cells. Moreover, the median lethal dose (LD50) of the cisplatin-loaded nanoparticles was more than 100 mg/kg by intravenous administration, which was much higher than that of free cisplatin.
This developed cisplatin-loaded nanoparticle is a promising formulation for the delivery of cisplatin, which will be an effective therapeutic regimen of ovarian cancer without severe side effects and cumulative toxicity.
PMCID: PMC3180455  PMID: 21966528
8.  Biodegradable Nanoparticles of mPEG-PLGA-PLL Triblock Copolymers as Novel Non-Viral Vectors for Improving siRNA Delivery and Gene Silencing 
Degradation of mRNA by RNA interference is one of the most powerful and specific mechanisms for gene silencing. However, insufficient cellular uptake and poor stability have limited its usefulness. Here, we report efficient delivery of siRNA via the use of biodegradable nanoparticles (NPs) made from monomethoxypoly(ethylene glycol)-poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid)-poly-l-lysine (mPEG-PLGA-PLL) triblock copolymers. Various physicochemical properties of mPEG-PLGA-PLL NPs, including morphology, size, surface charge, siRNA encapsulation efficiency, and in vitro release profile of siRNA from NPs, were characterized by scanning electron microscope, particle size and zeta potential analyzer, and high performance liquid chromatography. The levels of siRNA uptake and targeted gene inhibition were detected in human lung cancer SPC-A1-GFP cells stably expressing green fluorescent protein. Examination of the cultured SPC-A1-GFP cells with fluorescent microscope and flow cytometry showed NPs loading Cy3-labeled siRNA had much higher intracellular siRNA delivery efficiencies than siRNA alone and Lipofectamine-siRNA complexes. The gene silencing efficiency of mPEG-PLGA-PLL NPs was higher than that of commercially available transfecting agent Lipofectamine while showing no cytotoxicity. Thus, the current study demonstrates that biodegradable NPs of mPEG-PLGA-PLL triblock copolymers can be potentially applied as novel non-viral vectors for improving siRNA delivery and gene silencing.
PMCID: PMC3269702  PMID: 22312268
gene silencing; nanoparticles; PLGA; PLL; siRNA delivery; GFP
9.  Preparation and in vitro characterization of 9-nitrocamptothecin-loaded long circulating nanoparticles for delivery in cancer patients 
The purpose in this study was to investigate poly(ethylene glycol)-modified poly (d,l-lactide-co-glycolide) nanoparticles (PLGA-PEG-NPs) loading 9-nitrocamptothecin (9-NC) as a potent anticancer drug. 9-NC is an analog of the natural plant alkaloid camptothecin that has shown high antitumor activity and is currently in the end stage of clinical trial. Unfortunately, at physiological pH, these potent agents undergo a rapid and reversible hydrolysis with the loss of antitumor activity. Previous researchers have shown that the encapsulation of this drug in PLGA nanoparticles could increase its stability and release profile. In this research we investigated PLGA-PEG nanoparticles and their effect on in vitro characteristics of this labile drug. 9-NC-PLGA-PEG nanoparticles with particle size within the range of 148.5 ± 30 nm were prepared by a nanoprecipitation method. The influence of four different independent variables (amount of polymer, percent of emulsifier, internal phase volume, and external phase volume) on nanoparticle drug-loading was studied. Differential scanning calorimetry and X-ray diffractometry were also evaluated for physical characterizing. The results of optimized formulation showed a narrow size distribution, suitable zeta potential (+1.84), and a drug loading of more than 45%. The in vitro drug release from PLGA-PEG NPs showed a sustained release pattern of up to 120 hours and comparing with PLGA-NPs had a significant decrease in initial burst effect. These experimental results indicate that PLGA-PEG-NPs (versus PLGA-NPs) have a better physicochemical characterization and can be developed as a drug carrier in order to treat different malignancies.
PMCID: PMC2950404  PMID: 20957168
long circulating nanoparticle; 9-nitrocamptothecin; in vitro characterization
10.  Enzymatic- and temperature-sensitive controlled release of ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxides (USPIOs) 
Drug and contrast agent delivery systems that achieve controlled release in the presence of enzymatic activity are becoming increasingly important, as enzymatic activity is a hallmark of a wide array of diseases, including cancer and atherosclerosis. Here, we have synthesized clusters of ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxides (USPIOs) that sense enzymatic activity for applications in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). To achieve this goal, we utilize amphiphilic poly(propylene sulfide)-bl-poly(ethylene glycol) (PPS-b-PEG) copolymers, which are known to have excellent properties for smart delivery of drug and siRNA.
Monodisperse PPS polymers were synthesized by anionic ring opening polymerization of propylene sulfide, and were sequentially reacted with commercially available heterobifunctional PEG reagents and then ssDNA sequences to fashion biofunctional PPS-bl-PEG copolymers. They were then combined with hydrophobic 12 nm USPIO cores in the thin-film hydration method to produce ssDNA-displaying USPIO micelles. Micelle populations displaying complementary ssDNA sequences were mixed to induce crosslinking of the USPIO micelles. By design, these crosslinking sequences contained an EcoRV cleavage site. Treatment of the clusters with EcoRV results in a loss of R2 negative contrast in the system. Further, the USPIO clusters demonstrate temperature sensitivity as evidenced by their reversible dispersion at ~75°C and re-clustering following return to room temperature.
This work demonstrates proof of concept of an enzymatically-actuatable and thermoresponsive system for dynamic biosensing applications. The platform exhibits controlled release of nanoparticles leading to changes in magnetic relaxation, enabling detection of enzymatic activity. Further, the presented functionalization scheme extends the scope of potential applications for PPS-b-PEG. Combined with previous findings using this polymer platform that demonstrate controlled drug release in oxidative environments, smart theranostic applications combining drug delivery with imaging of platform localization are within reach. The modular design of these USPIO nanoclusters enables future development of platforms for imaging and drug delivery targeted towards proteolytic activity in tumors and in advanced atherosclerotic plaques.
PMCID: PMC3056743  PMID: 21352596
11.  In vitro evaluation of anticancer nanomedicines based on doxorubicin and amphiphilic Y-shaped copolymers 
Four monomethoxy poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(L-lactide-co-glycolide)2 (mPEG-P( LA-co-GA)2) copolymers were synthesized by ring-opening polymerization of L-lactide and glycolide with double hydroxyl functionalized mPEG (mPEG-(OH)2) as macroinitiator and stannous octoate as catalyst. The copolymers self-assembled into nanoscale micellar/vesicular aggregations in phosphate buffer at pH 7.4. Doxorubicin (DOX), an anthracycline anticancer drug, was loaded into the micellar/vesicular nanoparticles, yielding micellar/vesicular nanomedicines. The in vitro release behaviors could be adjusted by content of hydrophobic polyester and pH of the release medium. In vitro cell experiments showed that the intracellular DOX release could be adjusted by content of P(LA-co-GA), and the nanomedicines displayed effective proliferation inhibition against Henrietta Lacks’s cells with different culture times. Hemolysis tests indicated that the copolymers were hemocompatible, and the presence of copolymers could reduce the hemolysis ratio of DOX significantly. These results suggested that the novel anticancer nanomedicines based on DOX and amphiphilic Y-shaped copolymers were attractive candidates as tumor tissular and intracellular targeting drug delivery systems in vivo, with enhanced stability during circulation and accelerated drug release at the target sites.
PMCID: PMC3373295  PMID: 22701317
amphiphilic Y-shaped copolymer; anticancer nanomedicine; cellular proliferation inhibition; doxorubicin
12.  Dual-Purpose Magnetic Micelles for MRI and Gene Delivery 
Gene therapy is a promising therapeutic approach for treating disease, but the efficient delivery of genes to desired locations with minimal side effects remains a challenge. In addition to gene therapy, it is also highly desirable to provide sensitive imaging information in patients for disease diagnosis, screening and post-therapy monitoring. Here, we report on the development of dual-purpose chitosan and polyethyleneimine (PEI) coated magnetic micelles (CP-mag-micelles) that can deliver nucleic acid-based therapeutic agents and also provide magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These ‘theranostic’ CP-mag-micelles are composed of monodisperse hydrophobic superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) loaded into the cores of micelles that are self-assembled from a block copolymer of poly (D, L-lactide) (PLA) and monomethoxy polyethylene glycol (mPEG). For efficient loading and protection of the nucleic acids the micelles were coated with cationic polymers, such as chitosan and PEI. The morphology and size distribution of the CP-mag-micelles were characterized and their potential for use as an MRI-probe was tested using an MRI scanner. The T2 relaxivity of micelles was similar to CP-mag-micelles confirming that coating with cationic polymers did not alter magnetism. Nanoparticles coated with chitosan:PEI at a weight ratio of 5:5 showed higher transfection efficiency in HEK293, 3T3 and PC3 cells than with weight ratios of 3:7 or 7:3. CP-mag-micelles are biocompatible, can be delivered to various organs and are safe. A single injection of CP-mag-micelles carrying reporter plasmids in vivo expressed genes for at least one week. Collectively, our results demonstrate that a structural reinforcement of SPIONs loaded in the core of an mPEG-PLA micelle coated with cationic polymers provides efficient DNA delivery and enhanced MRI potential, and affords a promising candidate for theranostics in the future.
PMCID: PMC3632302  PMID: 22561339
Chitosan and PEI coated magnetic micelles (CP-mag-micelles); magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); super paramagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs); gene delivery; theranostics
13.  Nanoparticles of Poly(Lactide-Co-Glycolide)-d-a-Tocopheryl Polyethylene Glycol 1000 Succinate Random Copolymer for Cancer Treatment 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2010;5(7):1161-1169.
Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. Nanomaterials and nanotechnologies could provide potential solutions. In this research, a novel biodegradable poly(lactide-co-glycolide)-d-a-tocopheryl polyethylene glycol 1000 succinate (PLGA-TPGS) random copolymer was synthesized from lactide, glycolide and d-a-tocopheryl polyethylene glycol 1000 succinate (TPGS) by ring-opening polymerization using stannous octoate as catalyst. The obtained random copolymers were characterized by 1H NMR, FTIR, GPC and TGA. The docetaxel-loaded nanoparticles made of PLGA-TPGS copolymer were prepared by a modified solvent extraction/evaporation method. The nanoparticles were then characterized by various state-of-the-art techniques. The results revealed that the size of PLGA-TPGS nanoparticles was around 250 nm. The docetaxel-loaded PLGA-TPGS nanoparticles could achieve much faster drug release in comparison with PLGA nanoparticles. In vitro cellular uptakes of such nanoparticles were investigated by CLSM, demonstrating the fluorescence PLGA-TPGS nanoparticles could be internalized by human cervix carcinoma cells (HeLa). The results also indicated that PLGA-TPGS-based nanoparticles were biocompatible, and the docetaxel-loaded PLGA-TPGS nanoparticles had significant cytotoxicity against Hela cells. The cytotoxicity against HeLa cells for PLGA-TPGS nanoparticles was in time- and concentration-dependent manner. In conclusion, PLGA-TPGS random copolymer could be acted as a novel and promising biocompatible polymeric matrix material applicable to nanoparticle-based drug delivery system for cancer chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC2893931  PMID: 20596457
PLGA-TPGS; Random copolymer; Docetaxel; Nanoparticle; HeLa; Cancer chemotherapy
14.  Nanoparticles of Poly(Lactide-Co-Glycolide)-d-a-Tocopheryl Polyethylene Glycol 1000 Succinate Random Copolymer for Cancer Treatment 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2010;5(7):1161-1169.
Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. Nanomaterials and nanotechnologies could provide potential solutions. In this research, a novel biodegradable poly(lactide-co-glycolide)-d-a-tocopheryl polyethylene glycol 1000 succinate (PLGA-TPGS) random copolymer was synthesized from lactide, glycolide and d-a-tocopheryl polyethylene glycol 1000 succinate (TPGS) by ring-opening polymerization using stannous octoate as catalyst. The obtained random copolymers were characterized by 1H NMR, FTIR, GPC and TGA. The docetaxel-loaded nanoparticles made of PLGA-TPGS copolymer were prepared by a modified solvent extraction/evaporation method. The nanoparticles were then characterized by various state-of-the-art techniques. The results revealed that the size of PLGA-TPGS nanoparticles was around 250 nm. The docetaxel-loaded PLGA-TPGS nanoparticles could achieve much faster drug release in comparison with PLGA nanoparticles. In vitro cellular uptakes of such nanoparticles were investigated by CLSM, demonstrating the fluorescence PLGA-TPGS nanoparticles could be internalized by human cervix carcinoma cells (HeLa). The results also indicated that PLGA-TPGS-based nanoparticles were biocompatible, and the docetaxel-loaded PLGA-TPGS nanoparticles had significant cytotoxicity against Hela cells. The cytotoxicity against HeLa cells for PLGA-TPGS nanoparticles was in time- and concentration-dependent manner. In conclusion, PLGA-TPGS random copolymer could be acted as a novel and promising biocompatible polymeric matrix material applicable to nanoparticle-based drug delivery system for cancer chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC2893931  PMID: 20596457
PLGA-TPGS; Random copolymer; Docetaxel; Nanoparticle; HeLa; Cancer chemotherapy
15.  PEI-PEG-Chitosan Copolymer Coated Iron Oxide Nanoparticles for Safe Gene Delivery: synthesis, complexation, and transfection** 
Advanced functional materials  2009;19(14):2244-2251.
Gene therapy offers the potential of mediating disease through modification of specific cellular functions of target cells. However, effective transport of nucleic acids to target cells with minimal side effects remains a challenge despite the use of unique viral and non-viral delivery approaches. Here we present a non-viral nanoparticle gene carrier that demonstrates effective gene delivery and transfection both in vitro and in vivo. The nanoparticle system (NP-CP-PEI) is made of a superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticle (NP), which enables magnetic resonance imaging, coated with a novel copolymer (CP-PEI) comprised of short chain polyethylenimine (PEI) and poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) grafted to the natural polysaccharide, chitosan (CP), which allows efficient loading and protection of the nucleic acids. The function of each component material in this nanoparticle system is illustrated by comparative studies of three nanoparticle systems of different surface chemistries, through material property characterization, DNA loading and transfection analyses, and toxicity assessment. Significantly, NP-CP-PEI demonstrates an innocuous toxic profile and a high level of expression of the delivered plasmid DNA in a C6 xenograft mouse model, making it a potential candidate for safe in vivo delivery of DNA for gene therapy.
PMCID: PMC2756666  PMID: 20160995
biomaterials; superparamagnetic nanoparticles; DNA; drug delivery; gene therapy
16.  Bcl-2-functionalized ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles coated with amphiphilic polymer enhance the labeling efficiency of islets for detection by magnetic resonance imaging 
Based on their versatile, biocompatible properties, superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) or ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide (USPIO) nanoparticles are utilized for detecting and tracing cells or tumors in vivo. Here, we developed an innoxious and concise synthesis approach for a novel B-cell lymphoma (Bcl)-2 monoclonal antibody-functionalized USPIO nanoparticle coated with an amphiphilic polymer (carboxylated polyethylene glycol monooleyl ether [OE-PEG-COOH]). These nanoparticles can be effectively internalized by beta cells and label primary islet cells, at relatively low iron concentration. The biocompatibility and cytotoxicity of these products were investigated by comparison with the commercial USPIO product, FeraSpin™ S. We also assessed the safe dosage range of the product. Although some cases showed a hypointensity change at the site of transplant, a strong magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was detectable by a clinical MRI scanner, at field strength of 3.0 Tesla, in vivo, and the iron deposition/attached in islets was confirmed by Prussian blue and immunohistochemistry staining. It is noteworthy that based on our synthesis approach, in future, we could exchange the Bcl-2 with other probes that would be more specific for the targeted cells and that would have better labeling specificity in vivo. The combined results point to the promising potential of the novel Bcl-2-functionalized PEG-USPIO as a molecular imaging agent for in vivo monitoring of islet cells or other cells.
PMCID: PMC3804583  PMID: 24204136
USPIO; MRI; beta cells; nanoparticle functionalization; islet transplantation; cell tracing
17.  Anticancer Activity of Nanoparticles Based on PLGA and its Co-polymer: In-vitro Evaluation  
Attempts have been made to prepare nanoparticles based on poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) and doxorubicin. Biological evaluation and physio-chemical characterizations were performed to elucidate the effects of initial drug loading and polymer composition on nanoparticle properties and its antitumor activity.
PLGA nanoparticles were formulated by sonication method. Lactide/glycolide ratio and doxorubicin amounts have been tailored. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) were employed to identify the presence of doxorubicin within nanospheres. The in vitro release studies were performed to determine the initial ant net release rates over 24 h and 20 days, respectively. Furthermore, cytotoxicity assay was measured to evaluate therapeutic potency of doxorubicin-loaded nanoparticles.
Spectroscopy and thermal results showed that doxorubicin was loaded into the particles successfully. It was observed that lactide/glycolide content of PLGA nanoparticles containing doxorubicin has more prominent role in tuning particle characteristics. Doxorubicin release profiles from PLGA 75 nanospheres demonstrated that the cumulative release rate increased slightly and higher initial burst was detected in comparison to PLGA 50 nanoparticles. MTT data revealed doxorubicin induced antitumor activity was enhanced by encapsulation process, and increasing drug loading and glycolide portion. The results led to the conclusion that by controlling the drug loading and the polymer hydrophilicity, we can adjust the drug targeting and blood clearance, which may play a more prominent role for application in chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3920687  PMID: 24523742
Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid); Doxorubicin; Nanoparticle; Sustained release; Antitumor activity
18.  Biodegradable mucus-penetrating nanoparticles composed of diblock copolymers of polyethylene glycol and poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) 
Drug delivery and translational research  2012;2(2):10.1007/s13346-011-0048-9.
Mucus secretions coating entry points to the human body that are not covered by skin efficiently trap and clear conventional drug carriers, limiting controlled drug delivery at mucosal surfaces. To overcome this challenge, we recently engineered nanoparticles that readily penetrate a variety of human mucus secretions, which we termed mucus-penetrating particles (MPP). Here, we report a new biodegradable MPP formulation based on diblock copolymers of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) and poly(ethylene glycol) (PLGA-PEG). PLGA-PEG nanoparticles prepared by a solvent diffusion method rapidly diffused through fresh, undiluted human cervicovaginal mucus (CVM) with an average speed only eightfold lower than their theoretical speed in water. In contrast, PLGA nanoparticles were slowed more than 12,000-fold in the same CVM secretions. Based on the measured diffusivities, as much as 75% of the PLGA-PEG nanoparticles are expected to penetrate a 10-μm-thick mucus layer within 30 min, whereas virtually no PLGA nanoparticles are expected to do so over the same duration. These results encourage further development of PLGA-PEG nanoparticles as mucus-penetrating drug carriers for improved drug and gene delivery to mucosal surfaces.
PMCID: PMC3818113  PMID: 24205449
Drug delivery; Human mucus; Mucus-penetrating particles
19.  In vitro non-viral gene delivery with nanofibrous scaffolds 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(19):e170.
Extracellular and intracellular barriers typically prevent non-viral gene vectors from having an effective transfection efficiency. Formulation of a gene delivery vehicle that can overcome the barriers is a key step for successful tissue regeneration. We have developed a novel core-shelled DNA nanoparticle by invoking solvent-induced condensation of plasmid DNA (β-galactosidase or GFP) in a solvent mixture [94% N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF) + 6% 1× TE buffer] and subsequent encapsulation of the condensed DNA globule in a triblock copolymer, polylactide-poly(ethylene glycol)-polylactide (L8E78L8), in the same solvent environment. The polylactide shell protects the encapsulated DNA from degradation during electrospinning of a mixture of encapsulated DNA nanoparticles and biodegradable PLGA (a random copolymer of lactide and glycolide) to form a nanofibrous non-woven scaffold using the same solution mixture. The bioactive plasmid DNA can then be released in an intact form from the scaffold with a controlled release rate and transfect cells in vitro.
PMCID: PMC1277813  PMID: 16269820
20.  Off-resonance Saturation Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Superparamagnetic Polymeric Micelles 
An off-resonance saturation (ORS) method was used for magnetic resonance imaging of superparamagnetic polymeric micelles (SPPM). SPPM was produced by encapsulating a cluster of magnetite nanoparticles (9.9±0.4 nm in diameter) in poly(ethylene glycol)-b-poly(D,L-lactide) (PEG-PLA) copolymer micelles (micelle diameter: 60±9 nm). In ORS MRI, a selective radiofrequency (RF) pulse was applied at an off-resonance position (0-50 ppm) from the bulk water signal, and the SPPM particles were visualized by the contrast on a division image constructed from two images acquired with and without pre-saturation. Here, the effects of saturation offset frequencies, saturation durations, and RF powers on ORS contrasts were investigated as these parameters are critical for optimization of ORS MRI for in vivo imaging applications. The ability to turn “ON” and “OFF” ORS contrast of SPPM solutions permits for an accurate image subtraction and a contrast enhancement to visualize SPPM probes for in vivo imaging of cancer.
PMCID: PMC2821283  PMID: 19964823
21.  Preparation and Investigation of Sustained Drug Delivery Systems Using an Injectable, Thermosensitive, In Situ Forming Hydrogel Composed of PLGA–PEG–PLGA 
AAPS PharmSciTech  2012;13(2):590-600.
In situ gelling systems are very attractive for pharmaceutical applications due to their biodegradability and simple manufacturing processes. The synthesis and characterization of thermosensitive poly(d,l-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA)–polyethylene glycol (PEG)–PLGA triblock copolymers as in situ gelling matrices were investigated in this study as a drug delivery system. Ring-opening polymerization using microwave irradiation was utilized as a novel technique, and the results were compared with those using a conventional method of polymerization. The phase transition temperature and the critical micelle concentration (CMC) of the copolymer solutions were determined by differential scanning calorimetry and spectrophotometry, respectively. The size of the micelles was determined with a light scattering method. In vitro drug release studies were carried out using naltrexone hydrochloride and vitamin B12 as model drugs. The rate and yield of the copolymerization process via microwave irradiation were higher than those of the conventional method. The copolymer structure and concentration played critical roles in controlling the sol–gel transition temperature, the CMC, and the size of the nanomicelles in the copolymer solutions. The rate of drug release could be modulated by the molecular weight of the drugs, the concentration of the copolymers, and their structures in the formulations. The amount of release versus time followed zero-order release kinetics for vitamin B12 over 25 days, in contrast to the Higuchi modeling for naltrexone hydrochloride over a period of 17 days. In conclusion, PLGA–PEG1500–PLGA with a lactide-to-glycolide ratio of 5:1 is an ideal system for the long-acting, controlled release of naltrexone hydrochloride and vitamin B12.
PMCID: PMC3364385  PMID: 22528547
hydrogel; naltrexone; PLGA–PEG–PLGA; thermosensitive; triblock copolymer; vitamin B12
22.  Mouse lymphatic endothelial cell targeted probes: anti-LYVE-1 antibody-based magnetic nanoparticles 
To investigate the specific targeting property of lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor-1 binding polyethylene glycol-coated ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide (LYVE-1-PEG-USPIO) nanoparticles to mouse lymphatic endothelial cells (MLECs).
A ligand specific target to lymphatic vessels was selected by immunohistochemical staining on the sections of a Lewis subcutaneous transplanted tumor. The z-average hydrodynamic diameter (HD), zeta potential, and the relaxivity of PEG-USPIO and LYVE-1-PEG-USPIO nanoparticles were determined with a laser particle analyzer and magnetic resonance T2 spin echo sequence, respectively. Prussian blue staining and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of nanoparticle labeled cells were performed to determine the nanoparticles’ binding form. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed in vitro to evaluate the signal enhancement on the T2 spin echo sequence of the nanoparticle labeled cells. The iron content of the labeled cells after the Prussian blue staining and MRI scanning was determined by atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS).
The anti-LYVE-1 antibody was used as the specific ligand to synthesize the target probe to the MLECs. The mean z-average HDs of the LYVE-1-PEG-USPIO and PEG-USPIO nanoparticles were 57.42 ± 0.31 nm and 47.91 ± 0.73 nm, respectively, and the mean zeta potentials of the LYVE-1-PEG-USPIO and PEG-USPIO nanoparticles were 12.38 ± 4.87 mV and 2.57 ± 0.83 m V, respectively. The relaxivities of the LYVE-1-PEG-USPIO and PEG-USPIO nanoparticles were 185.48 mM−1s−1 and 608.32 mM−1s−1. Cells binding nanoparticles were visualized as blue granules in the Prussian blue staining. The TEM results of the labeled cells showed the specific localization of nanoparticles. The AAS results of labeled cells after the Prussian blue staining and MRI scanning showed that the LYVE-1-PEG-USPIO nanoparticles had good binding selectivity for MLECs. MRI results indicated that the PEG-USPIO and LYVE-1-PEG-USPIO nanoparticles could generate contrast on T2-weighted imaging, and the correlation between R2 and the iron content of the labeled cells was significantly positive.
This study demonstrated that LYVE-1-PEG-USPIO nanoparticles might potentially be used as an MRI contrast agent for targeting MLECs, and the magnetic properties of LYVE-1-PEG-USPIO nanoparticles were suitable for MRI.
PMCID: PMC3693816  PMID: 23818783
nanoparticles; lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor-1 (LYVE-1); ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide (USPIO); mouse lymphatic endothelial cells (MLECs); magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
23.  Paclitaxel-loaded nanoparticles of star-shaped cholic acid-core PLA-TPGS copolymer for breast cancer treatment 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2013;8(1):420.
A system of novel nanoparticles of star-shaped cholic acid-core polylactide-d-α-tocopheryl polyethylene glycol 1000 succinate (CA-PLA-TPGS) block copolymer was developed for paclitaxel delivery for breast cancer treatment, which demonstrated superior in vitro and in vivo performance in comparison with paclitaxel-loaded poly(d,l-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) nanoparticles and linear PLA-TPGS nanoparticles. The paclitaxel- or couramin 6-loaded nanoparticles were fabricated by a modified nanoprecipitation method and then characterized in terms of size, surface charge, surface morphology, drug encapsulation efficiency, and in vitro drug release. The CA-PLA-TPGS nanoparticles were found to be spherical in shape with an average size of around 120 nm. The nanoparticles were found to be stable, showing no change in the particle size and surface charge during 90-day storage of the aqueous solution. The release profiles of the paclitaxel-loaded nanoparticles exhibited typically biphasic release patterns. The results also showed that the CA-PLA-TPGS nanoparticles have higher antitumor efficacy than the PLA-TPGS nanoparticles and PLGA nanoparticles in vitro and in vivo. In conclusion, such nanoparticles of star-shaped cholic acid-core PLA-TPGS block copolymer could be considered as a potentially promising and effective strategy for breast cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC3874754  PMID: 24134303
Paclitaxel; Breast cancer; Nanoparticles; Drug delivery; Star-shaped copolymer
24.  PEG-Functionalized Magnetic Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery and Magnetic Resonance Imaging Applications 
Pharmaceutical research  2010;27(11):2283-2295.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG) functionalized magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) were tested as a drug carrier system, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) agent, and ability to conjugate to an antibody.
An iron oxide core coated with oleic acid (OA) and then with OA-PEG forms a water dispersible MNP formulation. Hydrophobic doxorubicin partitions into the OA layer for sustained drug delivery. The T1 and T2 MRI contrast properties were determined in vitro and the circulation of the MNPs measured in mouse carotid arteries. An N-hydroxysuccinimide group (NHS) on the OA-PEG-80 was used to conjugate the amine functional group on antibodies for active targeting in the human MCF-7 breast cancer cell line.
The optimized formulation had a mean hydrodynamic diameter of 184 nm with an 8 nm iron-oxide core. The MNPs enhance the T2 MRI contrast, and have a long circulation time in vivo with 30% relative concentration 50 min post-injection. Doxorubicin-loaded MNPs showed sustained drug release and dose-dependent antiproliferative effects in vitro; the drug effect was enhanced with transferrin antibody conjugated MNPs.
PEG functionalized MNPs could be developed as a targeted drug delivery system and MRI contrast agent.
PMCID: PMC3001231  PMID: 20845067
Iron-oxide; Anticancer drugs; Anti-proliferative effect; Reticuloendothelial system; Transferrin antibody
25.  A Strategy for Control of “Random” Copolymerization of Lactide and Glycolide: Application to Synthesis of PEG-b-PLGA Block Polymers Having Narrow Dispersity 
Macromolecules  2011;44(18):7132-7140.
Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) is a biodegradable copolymer that is also acceptable for use in a variety of biomedical applications. Typically, a random PLGA polymer is synthesized in a bulk batch polymerization using a tin-based catalyst at high temperatures. This methodology results in relatively broad polydispersity indexes (PDIs) due to transesterification, and the polymer product is often discolored. We report here the use of 1,8-diazabicyclo[5.4.0]-undec-7-ene (DBU), a known, effective, and convenient organocatalyst for the ring-opening polymerization of cyclic esters, to synthesize random copolymers of lactide and glycolide. The polymerization kinetics of the homo- and copolymerizations of lactide and glycolide were explored via NMR spectroscopy. A novel strategy that employs a controlled addition of the more reactive glycolide monomer to a solution containing the lactide monomer, the poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) macroinitiator, and DBU catalyst was developed. Using this tactic (semi-batch polymerization), we synthesized a series of block copolymers that exhibited excellent correlation of the expected and observed molecular weights and possessed narrow PDIs. We also measured the thermal properties of these block copolymers and observed trends based on the composition of the block copolymer. We also explored the need for experimental rigor in several aspects of the preparations and have identified a set of convenient reaction conditions that provide polymer products that retain the aforementioned desirable characteristics. These polymerizations proceed rapidly at room temperature and without the need for tin-based catalysts to provide PEG-b-PLGAs suitable for use in biomedical investigations.
PMCID: PMC3266509  PMID: 22287809

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