Preparation of core-crosslinked linear-dendritic copolymer micelles with enhanced stability and their application for drug solubilisation
In this study we explore the preparation of core-crosslinked micelles of linear-dendritic methoxy-poly(ethylene glycol) (MPEG)-co-poly(ester-sulfide) (PES) polymers to improve the stability of such polymeric micelle systems against premature disintegration and drug release. A series of MPEG-PES copolymers were synthesised via stepwise reactions of acetylation and thiol-ene photoreaction. Surface tension measurement showed that the copolymers with ethenyl surface groups could self-associate in dilute aqueous solutions to form micelles. Crosslinking within the micelle cores in the presence of dithioerythritol (DTT) linker was initiated under UV radiation. The formation of core-crosslinked micelles was confirmed by HPLC in combination with charged aerosol detection (CAD). The copolymers were found to readily hydrolyse under acidic conditions due to the ester-containing dendrons. Drug solubilisation capacities of the micellar solutions were determined using griseofulvin as a poorly water-soluble model drug. The solubility of griseofulvin showed a 10-fold enhancement in 1% w/v micelle solution and increased with the concentration of the copolymers. Drug release studies indicated that a more sustained release of griseofulvin was achieved for the core-crosslinked micelles compared to the non-crosslinked micelles, attributable to greater stability of the crosslinked core structure. The findings of this study present a new pathway towards developing biodegradable polymeric nanocarriers.