pH-responsive polyelectrolytes, including methacrylate-based anionic copolymers (MACs), are widely used as enteric coatings and matrices in oral drug delivery. Despite their widespread use in these macroscopic applications, the molecular understanding of their use as stabilizers for nanoparticles (NPs) is lacking. Here, we investigate how MACs can be used to create NPs for therapeutic drug delivery and the role of MAC molecular properties on the assembly of NPs via flash nanoprecipitation. The NP size is tuned from 59 to 454 nm by changing the degree of neutralization, ionic strength, total mass concentration, and the core-to-MAC ratio. The NP size is determined by the volume of hydrophilic domains on the surface relative to the volume of hydrophobic domains in the core. We calculate the dimensions of the hydrophobic NP core relative to the thickness of the polyelectrolyte layer over a range of ionizations. Importantly, the results are shown to apply to both high-molecular-weight polymers as core materials and small-molecule drugs. The pH responsiveness of MAC-stabilized NPs is also demonstrated. Future development of polyelectrolyte copolymer-stabilized nanomedicines will benefit from the guiding principles established in this study.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- drug delivery
- enteric-coating polymers
- flash nanoprecipitation
- methacrylate-based copolymers
- pH-responsive polymers