Light-triggered nitric oxide (NO) release from photoresponsive polymersomes for corneal wound healing†
Polymersomes have been extensively used in the delivery of both small and macromolecular payloads. However, the controlled delivery of gaseous therapeutics (e.g., nitric oxide, NO) remains a grand challenge due to its difficulty in loading of gaseous payloads into polymersomes without premature leakage. Herein, NO-releasing vesicles could be fabricated via the self-assembly of NO-releasing amphiphiles, which were synthesized by the direct polymerization of photoresponsive NO monomers (abbreviated as oNBN, pNBN, and BN). These monomers were rationally designed through the integration of the photoresponsive behavior of N-nitrosoamine moieties and the self-immolative chemistry of 4-aminobenzyl alcohol derivatives, which outperformed conventional NO donors such as diazeniumdiolates (NONOates) and S-nitrosothiols (SNOs) in terms of ease of preparation, stability of storage, and controllability of NO release. The unique design made it possible to selectively release NO by a light stimulus and to regulate the NO release rates. Importantly, the photo-mediated NO release could be manipulated in living cells and showed promising applications in the treatment of corneal wounds. In addition to delivering NO, the current design enabled the synergistic delivery of NO and other therapeutic payloads by taking advantage of NO release-mediated traceless crosslinking of the vesicles.