Biomacromolecules, Vol.12, No.4, 1224-1233, 2011
Ketal Cross-Linked Poly(ethylene glycol)-Poly(amino acid)s Copolymer Micelles for Efficient Intracellular Delivery of Doxorubicin
A biocompatible, robust polymer micelle bearing pH-hydrolyzable shell cross-links was developed for efficient intracellular delivery of doxorubicin (DOX). The rationally designed triblock copolymer of poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(l-aspartic acid)-poly(l-phenylalanine) (PEG-PAsp-PPhe) self-assembled to form polymer micelles with three distinct domains of the PEG outer corona, the PAsp middle shell, and the PPhe inner core. Shell cross-linking was performed by the reaction of ketal-containing cross-linkers with Asp moieties in the middle shells. The shell cross-linking did not change the micelle size and the spherical morphology. Fluorescence quenching experiments confirmed the formation of shell cross-linked diffusion barrier, as judged by the reduced Stern-Volmer quenching constant (K-SV). Dynamic light scattering and fluorescence spectroscopy experiments showed that shell cross-linking improved the micellar physical stability even in the presence of micelle disrupting surfactants, sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS). The hydrolysis kinetics study showed that the hydrolysis half-life (t(1/2)) of ketal cross-links was estimated to be 52 h at pH 7.4, whereas 0.7 h at pH 5.0, indicating the 74-fold faster hydrolysis at endosomal pH. Ketal cross-linked micelles showed the rapid DOX release at endosomal pH, compared to physiological pH. Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) showed that ketal cross-linked micelles were taken up by the MCF-7 breast cancer cells via endocytosis and transferred into endosomes to hydrolyze the cross-links by lowered pH and finally facilitate the DOX release to inhibit proliferation of cancer cells. This ketal cross-linked polymer micelle is promising for enhanced intracellular delivery efficiency of many hydrophobic anticancer drugs.