Specific uptake mechanisms of well-tolerated thermoresponsive polyglycerol-based nanogels in antigen-presenting cells of the skin
Engineered nanogels are of high value for a targeted and controlled transport of compounds due to the ability to change their chemical properties by external stimuli. As it has been indicated that nanogels possess a high ability to penetrate the stratum corneum, it cannot be excluded that nanogels interact with dermal dendritic cells, especially in diseased skin. In this study the potential crosstalk of the thermoresponsive nanogels (tNGs) with the dendritic cells of the skin was investigated with the aim to determine the immunotoxicological properties of the nanogels. The investigated tNGs were made of dendritic polyglycerol (dPG) and poly(glycidyl methyl ether-co-ethyl glycidyl ether) (p(GME-co-EGE)), as polymer conferring thermoresponsive properties. Although the tNGs were taken up, they displayed neither cytotoxic and genotoxic effects nor any induction of reactive oxygen species in the tested cells. Interestingly, specific uptake mechanisms of the tNGs by the dendritic cells were depending on the nanogels cloud point temperature (Tcp), which determines the phase transition of the nanoparticle. The study points to caveolae-mediated endocytosis as being the major tNGs uptake mechanism at 37 °C, which is above the Tcp of the tNGs. Remarkably, an additional uptake mechanism, beside caveolae-mediated endocytosis, was observed at 29 °C, which is the Tcp of the tNGs. At this temperature, which is characterized by two different states of the tNGs, macropinocytosis was involved as well. In summary, our study highlights the impact of thermoresponsivity on the cellular uptake mechanisms which has to be taken into account if the tNGs are used as a drug delivery system.