Pharmaceutics (Mar 2023)

Coating of SPIONs with a Cysteine-Decorated Copolyester: A Possible Novel Nanoplatform for Enzymatic Release

  • Jeovandro Maria Beltrame,
  • Brena Beatriz Pereira Ribeiro,
  • Camila Guindani,
  • Graziâni Candiotto,
  • Karina Bettega Felipe,
  • Rodrigo Lucas,
  • Alexandre D’Agostini Zottis,
  • Eduardo Isoppo,
  • Claudia Sayer,
  • Pedro Henrique Hermes de Araújo

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 15, no. 3
p. 1000


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Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) have their use approved for the diagnosis/treatment of malignant tumors and can be metabolized by the organism. To prevent embolism caused by these nanoparticles, they need to be coated with biocompatible and non-cytotoxic materials. Here, we synthesized an unsaturated and biocompatible copolyester, poly (globalide-co-ε-caprolactone) (PGlCL), and modified it with the amino acid cysteine (Cys) via a thiol-ene reaction (PGlCLCys). The Cys-modified copolymer presented reduced crystallinity and increased hydrophilicity in comparison to PGlCL, thus being used for the coating of SPIONS (SPION@PGlCLCys). Additionally, cysteine pendant groups at the particle’s surface allowed the direct conjugation of (bio)molecules that establish specific interactions with tumor cells (MDA-MB 231). The conjugation of either folic acid (FA) or the anti-cancer drug methotrexate (MTX) was carried out directly on the amine groups of cysteine molecules present in the SPION@PGlCLCys surface (SPION@PGlCLCys_FA and SPION@PGlCLCys_MTX) by carbodiimide-mediated coupling, leading to the formation of amide bonds, with conjugation efficiencies of 62% for FA and 60% for MTX. Then, the release of MTX from the nanoparticle surface was evaluated using a protease at 37 °C in phosphate buffer pH~5.3. It was found that 45% of MTX conjugated to the SPIONs were released after 72 h. Cell viability was measured by MTT assay, and after 72 h, 25% reduction in cell viability of tumor cells was observed. Thus, after a successful conjugation and subsequent triggered release of MTX, we understand that SPION@PGlCLCys has a strong potential to be treated as a model nanoplatform for the development of treatments and diagnosis techniques (or theranostic applications) that can be less aggressive to patients.