Chitosan-g-oligo(epsilon-caprolactone) polymeric micelles: microwave-assisted synthesis and physicochemical and cytocompatibility characterization
With the aim to produce mucoadhesive polymeric micelles for drug administration by mucosal routes, chitosan-g-oligo(epsilon-caprolactone) copolymers were synthesized by the microwave-assisted ring-opening polymerization of epsilon-caprolactone using chitosan as the macroinitiator and methanesulfonic acid as the solvent, catalyst and protecting group of the amine moieties. The reaction was conducted under very mild conditions and was completed within 10 min with a monomer conversion above 90%. The grafting of oligo(epsilon-caprolactone) blocks to the free hydroxyl groups of chitosan was confirmed by ATR/FT-IR, 1H- and 13C-NMR, WAXD and thermal analysis (TGA/DSC). The molecular weight of the synthetic hybrid copolymers was determined by GPC and MALDI-ToF mass spectrometry. Polymeric micelles obtained by the solvent diffusion/evaporation method showed a spherical shape (TEM and AFM) with sizes between 111 and 154 nm and highly positive zeta potential (>+50 mV) (DLS). In addition, they displayed good cell compatibility in the human lung adenocarcinoma epithelial line, A549, and were readily up-taken by the cervical cancer cell line, HeLa. Results from the encapsulation of the antituberculosis drug, rifampicin, showed that the micelles had better performance than other nanocarriers previously investigated (e.g., cyclodextrins). Moreover, the micelles conserved the mucoadhesiveness displayed by pristine chitosan and are expected to transiently open tight cell junctions and lead to more prolonged residence times in mucosal tissues and greater drug bioavailability.