The amphiphilic fullerene monomer (AF-1) consists of a "buckyball" cage to which a Newkome-like dendrimer unit and five lipophilic C12 chains positioned octahedrally to the dendrimer unit are attached. In this study, we report a novel fullerene-based liposome termed 'buckysome' that is water soluble and forms stable spherical nanometer sized vesicles. Cryogenic electron microscopy (Cryo-EM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and dynamic light scattering (DLS) studies were used to characterize the different supra-molecular structures readily formed from the fullerene monomers under varying pH, aqueous solvents, and preparative conditions.
Electron microscopy results indicate the formation of bilayer membranes with a width of ~6.5 nm, consistent with previously reported molecular dynamics simulations. Cryo-EM indicates the formation of large (400 nm diameter) multilamellar, liposome-like vesicles and unilamellar vesicles in the size range of 50–150 nm diameter. In addition, complex networks of cylindrical, tube-like aggregates with varying lengths and packing densities were observed. Under controlled experimental conditions, high concentrations of spherical vesicles could be formed. In vitro results suggest that these supra-molecular structures impose little to no toxicity. Cytotoxicity of 10–200 μM buckysomes were assessed in various cell lines. Ongoing studies are aimed at understanding cellular internalization of these nanoparticle aggregates.
In this current study, we have designed a core platform based on a novel amphiphilic fullerene nanostructure, which readily assembles into supra-molecular structures. This delivery vector might provide promising features such as ease of preparation, long-term stability and controlled release.