Design of poly(ethylene glycol)-tethered copolymers as novel mucoadhesive drug delivery systems

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We developed novel acrylic-based polymers that can be used as mucoadhesive delivery systems. Poly(acrylic acid) hydrogels were modified by grafting adhesion promoter chains such as poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) onto their back-bone chains, thus promoting the adhesive process by interpenetration. The copolymers synthesized were designated as P(AA-g-EG). Hydrogels were synthesized using PEG of two different molecular weights, 1000 and 2000, and with varying molar feed ratio of AA–EG (20:80, 40:60, 60:40, 80:20, 12:88, 25:75, 44:56, 67:33). The copolymers were synthesized by using free radical solution UV-polymerization. The effects of different PEG-tethered structures on mucoadhesion were studied using a tensiometric testing and the work of adhesion was calculated. Preswollen P(AA-g-EG) copolymer films composed of 40% acrylic acid (AA) and 60% ethylene glycol (EG), containing PEG 1000 tethers, exhibited the highest value for the work of mucoadhesion, 130×10−3±27×10−3 mJ, that is five times higher than the formulation composed of pure PAA. Based on these results and associated molecular analysis, we conclude that the higher mucoadhesive properties of this specific copolymer were the result of the synergistic effects of both monomers. AA functional groups allowed the polymer to form multiple hydrogen bonds with the glycoproteins present in the mucus. PEG tethers possibly acted as mucoadhesive promoters, enhancing interpenetration of polymer chains into the mucus.

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