pH-responsive polymer nanoparticles synthesized using ARGET ATRP
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Polycationic nanoparticles were synthesized with an activators regenerated by electron transfer for atom transfer radical polymerization-based (ARGET ATRP-based) emulsion in water method and investigated for their utility as biomaterials for drug delivery. The polycationic nanoparticles were composed of 2-(diethylamino)ethyl methacrylate (DEAEMA) for pH-responsiveness, poly(ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate (PEGMA) for improved biocompatibility, tert-butyl methacrylate (tBMA) to impart hydrophobicity, and a tetraethylene glycol dimethacrylate (TEGDMA) cross-linking agent for enhanced colloidal stability. Dynamic light scattering demonstrated pH-responsive swelling, and cell-based assays demonstrated pH-dependent membrane disruption. The polycationic nanoparticles demonstrated low toxicity to cells. The polycationic nanoparticles were evaluated for use as drug delivery biomaterials by investigating the interactions with the drug and cells. Delivery remains a major challenge for translating small interfering RNA (siRNA) to the clinic, and overcoming the delivery challenge requires effective siRNA delivery vehicles. The polycationic nanoparticles demonstrated efficient siRNA loading. Evidence of siRNA-induced knockdown in cells was observed following transfection with the polycationic nanoparticle/siRNA complexes. Imaging techniques confirmed enhanced siRNA internalization using the polycationic nanoparticle/siRNA complexes compared to naked siRNA. An array of polycationic nanoparticles synthesized using ARGET ATRP or UV-initiated polymerization methods was characterized to examine the effect of polymerization method on material properties and the connection to molecular structure. An improved understanding of molecular structure, and its connection to polymerization method and material characteristics, may aid the design of advanced materials. The ARGET ATRP polycationic nanoparticles demonstrated increased nanoscale homogeneity compared to the UV-initiated polymerization polycationic nanoparticles; increased nanoscale heterogeneity in the UV-initiated polymerization polycationic nanoparticles was associated with broader transitions. The polycationic nanoparticles promoted cellular uptake of siRNA and induced knockdown, thus demonstrating potential as siRNA delivery vehicles. The ARGET ATRP method provides an alternative route to creating polycationic nanoparticles with improved nanoscale homogeneity.