Biocompatible polymeric nanoparticles degrade and release cargo in response to biologically relevant levels of hydrogen peroxide

Caroline De Gracia Lux, Shivanjali Joshi-Barr, Trung Nguyen, Enas Mahmoud, Eric Schopf, Nadezda Fomina, Adah Almutairi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

447 Scopus citations


Oxidative stress is caused predominantly by accumulation of hydrogen peroxide and distinguishes inflamed tissue from healthy tissue. Hydrogen peroxide could potentially be useful as a stimulus for targeted drug delivery to diseased tissue. However, current polymeric systems are not sensitive to biologically relevant concentrations of H2O2 (50-100 μM). Here we report a new biocompatible polymeric capsule capable of undergoing backbone degradation and thus release upon exposure to such concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. Two polymeric structures were developed differing with respect to the linkage between the boronic ester group and the polymeric backbone: either direct (1) or via an ether linkage (2). Both polymers are stable in aqueous solution at normal pH, and exposure to peroxide induces the removal of the boronic ester protecting groups at physiological pH and temperature, revealing phenols along the backbone, which undergo quinone methide rearrangement to lead to polymer degradation. Considerably faster backbone degradation was observed for polymer 2 over polymer 1 by NMR and GPC. Nanoparticles were formulated from these novel materials to analyze their oxidation triggered release properties. While nanoparticles formulated from polymer 1 only released 50% of the reporter dye after exposure to 1 mM H 2O2 for 26 h, nanoparticles formulated from polymer 2 did so within 10 h and were able to release their cargo selectively in biologically relevant concentrations of H2O2. Nanoparticles formulated from polymer 2 showed a 2-fold enhancement of release upon incubation with activated neutrophils, while controls showed a nonspecific response to ROS producing cells. These polymers represent a novel, biologically relevant, and biocompatible approach to biodegradable H2O2-triggered release systems that can degrade into small molecules, release their cargo, and should be easily cleared by the body.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15758-15764
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 26 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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