Facile preparation of core cross-linked micelles from catechol-containing amphiphilic triblock copolymer

Suhong Wu, Huihui Kuang, Fanbo Meng, Yanjuan Wu, Xiaoyuan Li, Xiabin Jing, Yubin Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Efficient delivery of anti-cancer drugs into tumor cells for enhancing the intracellular drug concentration is a major challenge for cancer therapy due to the instability of drug-loading vehicle. In this report, we developed a simple method to stabilize the nanostructure of micelles only by bubbling air to crosslink the outer layer of the micelle core. Dopamine was conjugated to a biodegradable triblock copolymer monomethoxy poly(ethylene glycol)-b-poly(2- methyl-2-carboxyl-propylene carbonate)-b-poly(l-lactide) (mPEG-b-PMCC-b-PLA) to obtain dopamine grafted copolymer mPEG-b-P(MCC-g-dopamine)-b-PLA. After self-assembly, the core cross-linked micelles were then prepared by the oxidative self-polymerization of dopamine in the middle hydrophobic phase of the micelles. The cross-linked micelles had smaller sizes and narrower particle size distributions than their uncross-linked precursors. The improved stability was confirmed by critical micelle concentration (CMC) experiments and 1H NMR spectra. The kinetics and processes of oxidative cross-linking of micelles under air flux were monitored by UV-Vis spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). These core cross-linked micelles were able to load doxorubicin (DOX) with superior loading capacity of up to 19.5% (w/w, drug/micelle) with high drug loading efficiency (97.5%). Compared with the uncross-linked ones, drug release efficacy from the cross-linked micelles extremely decreased at pH 7.4. However, a properly sustained release occurred at pH 5.0, which is very favorable for drug delivery in tumor cells. The DOX-loaded micelles had similar cytotoxicity as the free drug and could be effectively internalized into MDA-MB-231 cells. This controllable and convenient approach for preparing core cross-linked micelles will have a pragmatic future in stabilizing the architecture of nanocarriers for drug delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15348-15356
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry
Issue number30
StatePublished - Aug 14 2012


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