Hydrogen Sulfide-Responsive Bicontinuous Nanospheres

Daniel A. Paterson, Wye Khay Fong, Sarah Hook, Allan B. Gamble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Block copolymers (BCPs) that can self-assemble into particles and be triggered by disease-specific molecules such as hydrogen sulfide (H2S) have the potential to impact on drug delivery, decreasing off-target toxicities while increasing drug efficacy. However, the incorporation of H2S-responsive aryl azides into BCPs for self-assembly has been limited by heat, light, and radical sensitivities. In this study, a robust activator regenerated by the electron-transfer atom-transfer radical polymerization reaction was used to synthesize aryl-azide-containing BCPs under ambient conditions. Conditions controlling self-assembly of the BCPs into 150-200 nm particles and the physicochemical properties of the particles were investigated. The use of nanoprecipitation with tetrahydrofuran to promote self-assembly of the BCPs resulted in vesicle structures, while dimethylformamide or dimethylsulfoxide resulted in polymeric bicontinuous nanospheres (BCNs). Triggering of the BCPs and particles (vesicles or BCNs) via exposure to H2S revealed that unsubstituted aryl azides were readily reduced (by HS-), resulting in particle disruption or cross-linking. The relative polar nature of the particle bilayers containing unsubstituted aryl azides and the open structure of the BCNs did however limit encapsulation of small hydrophilic and hydrophobic payloads. Incorporation of a benzylamide substituent onto the aryl azide group increased the hydrophobicity of the particles and encapsulation of hydrophilic cargo but reduced sensitivity to H2S, likely due to the reduced penetration of HS- into the bilayer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4770-4782
Number of pages13
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

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