Metal-polymer nanoparticulate systems for externally-controlled delivery
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Metal-polymer nanocomposites consisting of gold nanorods and temperature-responsive hydrogel nanoparticulates were investigated for use in externally-controlled drug delivery systems. Several different thermo-responsive hydrogels including poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide) (PNIPAAm) and poly(N-isopropryl acrylamide-co-acrylic acid) (P(NIPAAm-co-AA)) nanoparticles were synthesized for these nanocomposites using an aqueous dispersion polymerization method. In addition, nanoparticles of interpenetrating polymer networks (IPN) composed of poly(acrylamide) (PAAm) and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) were synthesized using a water-in-oil emulsion polymerization. Temperature-responsive equilibrium swelling behavior of nanoparticles with varying crosslinking densities was characterized using dynamic light scattering. IPN systems exhibited a positive swelling response upon heating while PNIPAAm and copolymer systems collapsed upon increase in temperature above the transition point. Nanoparticles were characterized using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) which demonstrated shape and morphology of polymer particles. Gold-polymer nanocomposites were formed by grafting gold nanorods to the surface of the polymer nanoparticles. Amine-functionalized gold nanorods were coupled to polymers using 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)carbodiimide hydrochloride (EDC) and N-hydroxysulfosuccinimide (Sulfo-NHS) to activate carboxyl groups on the surface of the polymer nanoparticles. TEM confirmed successful formation of the metal-polymer nanocomposites. Loading and release of a model therapeutic were done to assess the potential use of the polymer component of the nanocomposite for drug delivery. Fluorescein, a model for chemotherapeutics, was loaded into P(NIPAAm-co-AA) polymer nanoparticulates. Loading of the compound was shown to be a function of crosslinking density in the polymer network. Maximum loading was achieved using nanoparticles synthesized with a 10 mol% crosslinker feed ratio with entrapment efficiencies of 80.0 % and loading capacities of 12.0 %. Cytotoxicity studies were performed using a NIH/3T3 mouse fibroblast cell model. Cell viabilities in presence of P(NIPAAm-co-AA) nanoparticles were comparable to (not statistically different than) controls at concentrations up to 4 mg/ml. Similarly, gold-polymer composite concentrations up to 0.5 mg/ml caused limited cell death.