Chitosan-g-poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) copolymers as delivery carriers for intracameral pilocarpine administration

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Graphical abstractThis study reports, for the first time, the development of a chitosan-g-poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (Chi-PN) biodegradable in situ gelling delivery system for ocular pilocarpine administration through intracameral injection. The number of thermo-responsive polymer segments grafted onto the chitosan via carbodiimide-mediated formation of amide linkages was greatly affected by varying the feeding amount of carboxyl-terminated poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) in the synthesis, thereby determining the phase transition temperature and enzymatic degradability of Chi-PN materials. The increase in grafting ratio facilitated temperature triggered gelation and drug encapsulation at physiological conditions. Additionally, the slow biodegradation process of delivery carriers was responsible for the delayed pilocarpine release, which allowed that the drug concentration could reach minimum therapeutic level for treating glaucoma during 42 days of the study. All of the synthesized Chi-PN carriers demonstrated good ocular biocompatibility with lens epithelial cell cultures. In a rabbit model of experimental glaucoma, the intraocular pressure-lowering and miotic as well as corneal endothelial preservation responses to pilocarpine strongly depended on the drug release profiles. It is concluded that injectable biodegradable chitosan-based thermogels can be potentially utilized as intracameral biomaterials for extended release of antiglaucoma medications and improved performance of delivery carriers.

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