Dendritic polyglycerolsulfate-SS-poly(ester amide) micelles for the systemic delivery of docetaxel: pushing the limits of stability through the insertion of π–π interactions
D. Braatz, J. H. Peter, M. Dimde, E. Quaas, K. Ludwig, K. Achazi, M. Schirner, M. Ballauff and R. Haag – 2023
Insufficient stability of micellar drug delivery systems is still the major limitation to their systematic application in chemotherapy. This work demonstrates novel π-electron stabilized polyelectrolyte block copolymer micelles based on dendritic polyglycerolsulfate-cystamine-block-poly(4-benzoyl-1,4-oxazepan-7-one)-pyrene (dPGS-SS-POxPPh-Py) presenting a very low critical micelle concentration (CMC) of 0.3 mg L−1 (18 nM), 55-fold lower than that of conventional amphiphilic block copolymer micelles. The drug loading capacities of up to 13 wt% allow the efficient encapsulation of the chemotherapeutic Docetaxel (DTX). The spherical morphology of the micelles was proven by cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM). Gaussian Analysis revealed well-defined sizes of 57 nm and 80 nm in the unloaded/loaded state, respectively. Experiments by dynamic light scattering (DLS), ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy (UV-VIS), fluorescence spectroscopy, and cross-polarization solid-state 13C NMR studied the π–π interactions between the core-forming block segment of dPGS-SS-POxPPh-Py and DTX. The findings point to a substantial contribution of these noncovalent interactions to the system's high stability. By confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), the cellular uptake of fluorescein-labelled FITC-dPGS-SS-POxPPh-Py micelles was monitored after one day displaying the successful cell insertion of the cargo-loaded systems. To ensure the drug release in cancerous cells, the disassembly of the micellar DTX-formulations was achieved by reductive and enzymatic degradation studied by light scattering and GPC experiments. Further, no size increase nor disassembly in the presence of human serum proteins after four days was detected. The precise in vitro drug release was also given by the high potency of inhibiting cancer cell growth, finding half-maximal inhibitory concentrations (IC50) efficiently reduced to 68 nM coming along with high viabilities of the empty polymer materials tested on tumor-derived HeLa, A549, and McF-7 cell lines after two days. This study highlights the substantial potential of micelles tailored through the combination of π-electron stabilization with dendritic polyglycerolsulfate for targeted drug delivery systems, enabling them to have a significant foothold in the clinical treatment of cancer.