Controlled Dissociation of Polymeric Micelles in Response to Oxidative Stress

Roujia Chang, Binru Han, Amira Ben Mabrouk, Urara Hasegawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nanoparticle-based drug carriers that can respond to oxidative stress in tumor tissue have attracted attention for site-specific drug release. Taking advantage of the characteristic microenvironment in tumors, one of the attractive directions in drug delivery research is to design drug carriers that release drugs upon oxidation. A strategy to incorporate oxidation-sensitive thioether motifs such as thiomorpholine acrylamide (TMAM) to drug carriers has been often used to achieve oxidation-induced dissociation, thereby targeted drug release. However, those delivery systems often suffer from a slow dissociation rate due to the intrinsic hydrophobicity of the thioether structures. In this study, we aimed to enhance the dissociation rate of TMAM-based micelles upon oxidation. The random copolymers of N-isopropylacrylamide and TMAM (P(NIPAM/TMAM)) were designed as an oxidation-sensitive segment that showed a fast response to oxidative stress. We first synthesized P(NIPAM/TMAM) copolymers with different NIPAM:TMAM molar ratios. Those copolymers exhibited low critical solution temperatures (LCSTs) below 32 °C, which shifted to higher temperatures after oxidation. The changes in LCSTs depend on the NIPAM:TMAM molar ratios. At the NIPAM:TMAM molar ratio of 82:18, the LCSTs before and after oxidation were 17 and 54 °C, respectively. We then prepared micelles from the diblock copolymers of poly(N-acryloyl morpholine) (PAM) and P(NIPAM/TMAM). The micelles showed an accelerated dissociation rate upon oxidation compared to the micelles without NIPAM units. Furthermore, the doxorubicin (Dox)-loaded micelles showed enhanced relative toxicity in human colorectal cancer (HT29) cells over human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Our novel strategy to design an oxidation-sensitive micellar core comprising a P(NIPAM/TMAM) segment can be used as a chemotherapeutic delivery system that responds to an oxidative tumor microenvironment in an appropriate time scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1162-1170
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 12 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry

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