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Authors Zhao L, Chen G, Li J, Fu Y, Mavlyutov TA, Yao A, Nickells RW, Gong S, Guo LW
Author Profile(s)
Journal J Control Release Volume: 247 Pages: 153-166
Publish Date 2017 Feb 10
PubMed ID 28063892
PMC ID 5323250

Glaucoma is a common blinding disease characterized by loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). To date, there is no clinically available treatment directly targeting RGCs. We aim to develop an RGC-targeted intraocular drug delivery system using unimolecular micelle nanoparticles (unimNPs) to prevent RGC loss. The unimNPs were formed by single/individual multi-arm star amphiphilic block copolymer poly(amidoamine)-polyvalerolactone-poly(ethylene glycol) (PAMAM-PVL-PEG). While the hydrophobic PAMAM-PVL core can encapsulate hydrophobic drugs, the hydrophilic PEG shell provides excellent water dispersity. We conjugated unimNPs with the cholera toxin B domain (CTB) for RGC-targeting and with Cy5.5 for unimNP-tracing. To exploit RGC-protective sigma-1 receptor (S1R), we loaded unimNPs with an endogenous S1R agonist dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) as an FDA-approved model drug. These unimNPs produced a steady DHEA release in vitro for over two months at pH7.4. We then co-injected (mice, intraocular) unimNPs with the glutamate analog N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA), which is excito-toxic and induces RGC death. The CTB-conjugated unimNPs (i.e., targeted NPs) accumulated at the RGC layer and effectively preserved RGCs at least for 14days, whereas the unimNPs without CTB (i.e., non-targeted NPs) showed neither accumulation at nor protection of NMDA-treated RGCs. Consistent with S1R functions, targeted NPs relative to non-targeted NPs showed markedly better inhibitory effects on apoptosis and oxidative/inflammatory stresses in the RGC layer. Hence, the DHEA-loaded, CTB-conjugated unimNPs represent an RGC/S1R dual-targeted nanoplatform that generates an efficacious template for further development of a sustainable intraocular drug delivery system to protect RGCs, which may be applicable to treatments directed at glaucomatous pathology.

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