Amphiphilic brush polymers produced using the RAFT polymerisation method stabilise and reduce the cell cytotoxicity of lipid lyotropic liquid crystalline nanoparticles
Self-assembled lipid lyotropic liquid crystalline nanoparticles such as hexosomes and cubosomes contain internal anisotropic and isotropic nanostructures, respectively. Despite the remarkable potential of such nanoparticles in various biomedical applications, the stabilisers used in formulating the nanoparticles are often limited to commercially available polymers such as the Pluronic block copolymers. This study explored the potential of using Reversible Addition-Fragmentation chain Transfer (RAFT) technology to design amphiphilic brush-type polymers for the purpose of stabilising phytantriol and monoolein-based lipid dispersions. The synthesised brush-type polymers consisted of a hydrophobic C12 short chain and a hydrophilic poly(ethylene glycol)methyl ether acrylate (PEGA) long chain with multiple 9-unit poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) brushes with various molecular weights. It was observed that increasing the PEO brush density and thus the length of the hydrophilic component improved the stabilisation effectiveness for phytantriol and monoolein-based cubosomes. Synchrotron small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) experiments confirmed that the RAFT polymer-stabilised cubosomes had an internal double-diamond cubic phase with tunable water channel sizes. These properties were dependent on the molecular weight of the polymers, which were considered in some cases to be anisotropically distributed within the cubosomes. The in vitro toxicity of the cubosomes was assessed by cell viability of two human adenocarcinoma cell lines and haemolytic activities to mouse erythrocytes. The results showed that phytantriol cubosomes stabilised by the RAFT polymers were less toxic compared to their Pluronic F127-stabilised analogues. This study provides valuable insight into designing non-linear amphiphilic polymers for the effective stabilisation and cellular toxicity improvement of self-assembled lipid lyotropic liquid crystalline nanoparticles.