Polymeric nanostructures obtained through self-assembly of reduction-sensitive amphiphilic triblock copolymers were investigated as potential drug delivery systems. The characteristic feature of these polymers is their cleavable disulfide bond in the center of the hydrophobic block. Therefore, the triblock copolymers can be cleaved into amphiphilic diblock copolymers. A poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate)-b-poly(butyl methacrylate)-S-S-poly(butyl methacrylate)-b-poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (PHEMA-b-(PBMA-S-S-PBMA)-b-PHEMA) triblock copolymer was synthesized. It self-assembled into micelles which were used to encapsulate hydrophobic dye molecules (Nile Red, BodiPy 630/650) as model payloads. The self-assembled nanostructures disintegrated upon reduction of the disulfide bond, releasing their cargo and yielding larger particles that formed aggregates in solution after 24 h. A burst release of payload was shown within the first 15 min, followed by a constant release over several hours. As concentration gradients of reducing agents are commonly found in biological systems, the micelles could be used as redox-sensitive nanocarriers for the intracellular delivery of drugs. Polymeric micelles obtained from the self-assembly of redox-sensitive amphiphilic triblock copolymers with a cleavable disulfide bond in the center of the hydrophobic block a investigated as potential drug delivery systems. The degradation products of the micelles are amphiphilic diblock copolymers and should therefore allow facile clearing from biological systems.
- amphiphilic block copolymers
- reduction-sensitive intracellular drug delivery systems