Engineering Cellular Degradation of Multilayered Capsules through Controlled Cross-Linking
journal contributionposted on 27.11.2012, 00:00 by Kang Liang, Georgina K. Such, Zhiyuan Zhu, Sarah J. Dodds, Angus P. R. Johnston, Jiwei Cui, Hirotaka Ejima, Frank Caruso
We report a versatile approach for controlling the intracellular degradation of polymer capsules by tailoring the degree of cross-linking in the capsules. Poly(2-diisopropylaminoethyl methacrylate) capsules were assembled by the layer-by-layer technique and covalently stabilized with a redox-responsive bisazide cross-linker using click chemistry. The degree of cross-linking, determined using radiation scintillation counting, was tuned from 65% to 98% by adjusting the amount of cross-linker used to stabilize the polymer films. Transmission electron microscopy and fluorescence microscopy studies showed that the pH responsiveness of the capsules was maintained, regardless of the degree of cross-linking. Atomic force microscopy measurements on planar surfaces revealed that increasing the degree of cross-linking decreased the film roughness (from 8.7 to 1.7 nm), hence forming smoother films; however the film thicknesses were not significantly altered. Cellular studies showed that the rate of intracellular degradation of the capsules could be controlled between 0 and 6 h by altering the degree of cross-linking in the polymer capsules. These studies also demonstrated that the cellular degradation of highly cross-linked capsules (>90%) was significantly retarded compared to degradation in simulated cellular conditions. This suggests that the naturally occurring cellular reducing environment is rapidly depleted, and there is a significant delay before the cells can replenish the reducing environment. The modular and versatile nature of this approach lends itself to application to a wide range of polymer carriers and thus offers significant potential for the design of polymer-based systems for drug and gene delivery.