The Capture and Stabilization of Curcumin Using Hydrophobically Modified Polyacrylate Aggregates and Hydrogels

Hydrophobically modified polyacrylates are shown to suppress the degradation of the medicinal pigment curcumin under physiological conditions. In aqueous solution, the 3% octadecyl randomly substituted polyacrylate, PAAC18, forms micelle-like aggregates at a concentration of <1 wt % and a hydrogel at >1 wt %. Under both conditions, PAAC18 shows a remarkable ability to suppress the degradation of curcumin at pH 7.4 and 37 °C such that its degradation half-life is increased by 1600–2000-fold. The suppression of degradation is attributed to hydrophobic interactions between curcumin and the octadecyl substituents of PAAC18 within the micelle-like aggregates and the hydrogel, as indicated by 2D NOESY 1H NMR spectroscopy. UV–visible absorption titration results are consistent with the interaction of curcumin with five octadecyl substituents on average, which appears to substantially exclude water and greatly decrease the curcumin degradation rate. Dynamic light scattering and zeta potential measurements show the average hydrodynamic diameters of the PAAC18 aggregates to be 0.86–1.15 μm with a negative surface charge. In contrast to the octadecyl substitution, the 3% dodecyl randomly substituted polyacrylate, PAAC12, shows a negligible effect on slowing the degradation of curcumin, consistent with the dodecyl substituents being insufficiently long to capture curcumin in a adequately hydrophobic environment. These observations indicate the potential for PAAC18 to act as a model drug delivery system.