Three ternary graft copolymers bearing polystyrene (PS), poly(ethylene glycol) methyl ether (MPEG), and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) side chains were synthesized and characterized. At pH = 7.4, these copolymers stabilized doxorubicin (DOX)-containing benzyl benzoate (BBZ) nanoemulsion droplets in water and formed a compact polymer layer to inhibit DOX release. Upon lowering the solution pH to 5.0, the AA groups dissociated less and became less soluble. Moreover, the neutralized AA groups formed presumably H-bonded complexes with the EG units, reducing the solubility of the EG units. This dual action drastically shifted the hydrophilic and hydrophobic balance of the copolymer and caused the original stabilizing polymer layer to rupture and the nanoemulsion droplets to aggregate, releasing DOX. The rate and extent of DOX release could be increased by matching the numbers of PAA and MPEG chains per graft copolymer. In addition, these nanoemulsions were not toxic and entered human carcinoma cells, releasing DOX there. Thus, these nanoemulsions have potential as drug delivery vehicles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas