Drug release patterns and cytotoxicity of PEG-poly(aspartate) block copolymer micelles in cancer cells.

Allison M. Eckman, Eleftheria Tsakalozou, Nayon Y. Kang, Andrei Ponta, Younsoo Bae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


To test physicochemical and biological properties of PEG-poly(aspartate) [PEG-p(Asp)] block copolymer micelles entrapping doxorubicin hydrochloride (DOX) through ionic interaction. PEG-p(Asp) was synthesized from 5 kDa PEG and 20 Asp units. Carboxyl groups of p(Asp) were present as benzyl ester [PEG-p(Asp/Bz)], sodium salt [PEG-p(Asp/Na)] or free acid [PEG-p(Asp/H)]. Block copolymers and DOX were mixed at various ratios to prepare polymer micelles, which were subsequently characterized to determine particle size, drug loading and release patterns, and cytotoxicity against prostate (PC3 and DU145) and lung (A549) cancer cell lines. PEG-p(Asp/Bz), Na- and H-micelles entrapped 1.1, 56.8 and 40.6 wt.% of DOX, respectively. Na- and H-micelles (<100 nm) showed time-dependent DOX release at pH 7.4, which was accelerated at pH 5.0. Na-micelles were most stable at pH 7.4, retaining 31.8% of initial DOX for 48 h. Cytotoxicity of Na-micelles was 23.2% (A549), 28.5% (PC3) and 45.9% (DU145) more effective than free DOX. Ionic interaction appeared to entrap DOX efficiently in polymer micelles from PEG-p(Asp) block copolymers. Polymer micelles possessing counter ions (Na) of DOX in the core were the most stable, releasing drugs for prolonged time in a pH-dependent manner, and suppressing cancer cells effectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1755-1767
Number of pages13
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Authors acknowledge financial support provided by the Kentucky Lung Cancer Research Program.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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