Optical tweezers reveal relationship between microstructure and nanoparticle penetration of pulmonary mucus.
ABSTRACT: In this study, the mobility of nanoparticles in mucus and similar hydrogels as model systems was assessed to elucidate the link between microscopic diffusion behavior and macroscopic penetration of such gels. Differences in particle adhesion to mucus components were strongly dependent on particle coating. Particles coated with 2 kDa PEG exhibited a decreased adhesion to mucus components, whereas chitosan strongly increased the adhesion. Despite such mucoinert properties of PEG, magnetic nanoparticles of both coatings did not penetrate through native respiratory mucus, resisting high magnetic forces (even for several hours). However, model hydrogels were, indeed, penetrated by both particles in dependency of particle coating, obeying the theory of particle mobility in an external force field. Comparison of penetration data with cryogenic scanning EM images of mucus and the applied model systems suggested particularly high rigidity of the mucin scaffold and a broad pore size distribution in mucus as reasons for the observed particle immobilization. Active probing of the rigidity of mucus and model gels with optical tweezers was used in this context to confirm such properties of mucus on the microscale, thus presenting the missing link between micro- and macroscopical observations. Because of high heterogeneity in the size of the voids and pores in mucus, on small scales, particle mobility will depend on adhesive or inert properties. However, particle translocation over distances larger than a few micrometers is restricted by highly rigid structures within the mucus mesh.
Project description:Sputum poses a critical diffusional barrier that strongly limits the efficacy of drug and gene carriers in the airways of individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF). Previous attempts to enhance particle penetration of CF sputum have focused on either reducing its barrier properties via mucolytics, or decreasing particle adhesion to sputum constituents by coating the particle surface with non-mucoadhesive polymers, including polyethylene glycol (PEG). Neither approach has enabled particles to penetrate expectorated sputum at rates previously observed for non-mucoadhesive nanoparticles in human cervicovaginal mucus. Here, we sought to investigate whether a common mucolytic, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), in combination with dense PEG coatings on particles, can synergistically enhance particle penetration across fresh undiluted CF sputum.We used high-resolution multiple particle tracking to measure the diffusion of uncoated and PEG-coated nanoparticles in native and NAC-treated CF sputum.We discovered that 200 nm particles, if densely coated with PEG, were able to penetrate CF sputum pretreated with NAC with average speeds approaching their theoretical speeds in water. Based on the rapid penetration of PEG-coated particles in NAC-treated sputum, we determined that the average spacing between sputum mesh elements was increased from 145 ± 50 nm to 230 ± 50 nm upon NAC treatment. Mathematical models based on particle transport rates suggest as much as 75 and 30% of 200 and 500 nm PEG-coated particles, respectively, may penetrate a physiologically thick NAC-treated CF sputum layer within 20 min. Uncoated particles were trapped in CF sputum pretreated with NAC nearly to the same extent as in native sputum, suggesting that NAC treatment alone offered little improvement to particle penetration.NAC facilitated rapid diffusion of PEG-coated, muco-inert nanoparticles in CF sputum. Our results provide a promising strategy to improve drug and gene carrier penetration in CF sputum, offering hope for improved therapies for CF.
Project description:To optimally penetrate biological hydrogels such as mucus and the tumor interstitial matrix, nanoparticles (NPs) require physicochemical properties that would typically preclude cellular uptake, resulting in inefficient drug delivery. Here, we demonstrate that (poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) core)-(lipid shell) NPs with moderate rigidity display enhanced diffusivity through mucus compared with some synthetic mucus penetration particles (MPPs), achieving a mucosal and tumor penetrating capability superior to that of both their soft and hard counterparts. Orally administered semi-elastic NPs efficiently overcome multiple intestinal barriers, and result in increased bioavailability of doxorubicin (Dox) (up to 8 fold) compared to Dox solution. Molecular dynamics simulations and super-resolution microscopy reveal that the semi-elastic NPs deform into ellipsoids, which enables rotation-facilitated penetration. In contrast, rigid NPs cannot deform, and overly soft NPs are impeded by interactions with the hydrogel network. Modifying particle rigidity may improve the efficacy of NP-based drugs, and can be applicable to other barriers.
Project description:The highly tunable biological, chemical, and physical properties of bioactive hydrogels enable their use in an array of tissue engineering and drug delivery applications. Systematic modulation of these properties can be used to elucidate key cell-material interactions to improve therapeutic effects. For example, the rate and extent of endothelialization are critical to the long-term success of many blood-contacting devices. To this end, we have developed a bioactive hydrogel that could be used as coating on cardiovascular devices to enhance endothelial cell (EC) adhesion and migration. The current work investigates the relative impact of hydrogel variables on key endothelialization processes. The bioactive hydrogel is based on poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) and a streptococcal collagen-like (Scl2-2) protein that has been modified with integrin ?1?1 and ?2?1 binding sites. The use of PEG hydrogels allows for incorporation of specific bioactive cues and independent manipulation of scaffold properties. The selective integrin binding of Scl2-2 was compared to more traditional collagen-modified PEG hydrogels to determine the effect of integrin binding on cell behavior. Protein functionalization density, protein concentration, and substrate modulus were independently tuned with both Scl2-2 and collagen to determine the effect of each variable on EC adhesion, spreading, and migration. The findings here demonstrate that increasing substrate modulus, decreasing functionalization density, and increasing protein concentration can be utilized to increase EC adhesion and migration. Additionally, PEG-Scl2-2 hydrogels had higher migration speeds and proliferation over 1 week compared with PEG-collagen gels, demonstrating that selective integrin binding can be used to enhance cell-material interactions. Overall, these studies contribute to the understanding of the effects of matrix cues on EC interactions and demonstrate the strong potential of PEG-Scl2-2 hydrogels to promote endothelialization of blood-contacting devices.
Project description:Mucus typically traps and rapidly removes foreign particles from the airways, gastrointestinal tract, nasopharynx, female reproductive tract and the surface of the eye. Nanoparticles capable of rapid penetration through mucus can potentially avoid rapid clearance, and open significant opportunities for controlled drug delivery at mucosal surfaces. Here, we report an industrially scalable emulsification method to produce biodegradable mucus-penetrating particles (MPP). The emulsification of diblock copolymers of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) and polyethylene glycol (PLGA-PEG) using low molecular weight (MW) emulsifiers forms dense brush PEG coatings on nanoparticles that allow rapid nanoparticle penetration through fresh undiluted human mucus. In comparison, conventional high MW emulsifiers, such as polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), interrupts the PEG coating on nanoparticles, resulting in their immobilization in mucus owing to adhesive interactions with mucus mesh elements. PLGA-PEG nanoparticles with a wide range of PEG MW (1, 2, 5, and 10 kDa), prepared by the emulsification method using low MW emulsifiers, all rapidly penetrated mucus. A range of drugs, from hydrophobic small molecules to hydrophilic large biologics, can be efficiently loaded into biodegradable MPP using the method described. This readily scalable method should facilitate the production of MPP products for mucosal drug delivery, as well as potentially longer-circulating particles following intravenous administration.
Project description:Reducing the foreign body response (FBR) to implanted biomaterials will enhance their performance in tissue engineering. Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels are increasingly popular for this application due to their low cost, ease of use, and the ability to tune their compliance via molecular weight and cross-linking densities. PEG hydrogels can elicit chronic inflammation in vivo, but recent evidence has suggested that extremely hydrophilic, zwitterionic materials and particles can evade the immune system. To combine the advantages of PEG-based hydrogels with the hydrophilicity of zwitterions, we synthesized hydrogels with comonomers PEG and the zwitterion phosphorylcholine (PC). Recent evidence suggests that stiff hydrogels elicit increased immune cell adhesion to hydrogels, which we attempted to reduce by increasing hydrogel hydrophilicity. Surprisingly, hydrogels with the highest amount of zwitterionic comonomer elicited the highest FBR. Lowering the hydrogel modulus (165 to 3 kPa), or PC content (20 to 0 wt %), mitigated this effect. A high density of macrophages was found at the surface of implants associated with a high FBR, and mass spectrometry analysis of the proteins adsorbed to these gels implicated extracellular matrix, immune response, and cell adhesion protein categories as drivers of macrophage recruitment. Overall, we show that modulus regulates macrophage adhesion to zwitterionic-PEG hydrogels, and demonstrate that chemical modifications to hydrogels should be studied in parallel with their physical properties to optimize implant design.
Project description:Therapeutic nanoparticles must rapidly penetrate the mucus secretions lining the surfaces of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and cervicovaginal tracts to efficiently reach the underlying tissues. Whereas most polymeric nanoparticles are highly mucoadhesive, we previously discovered that a dense layer of low MW polyethylene glycol (PEG) conferred a sufficiently hydrophilic and uncharged surface to effectively minimize mucin-nanoparticle adhesive interactions, allowing well-coated particles to rapidly diffuse through human mucus. Here, we sought to investigate the influence of surface coating by polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), a relatively hydrophilic and uncharged polymer routinely used as a surfactant to formulate drug carriers, on the transport of nanoparticles in fresh human cervicovaginal mucus. We found that PVA-coated polystyrene (PS) particles were immobilized, with speeds at least 4000-fold lower in mucus than in water, regardless of the PVA molecular weight or incubation concentration tested. Nanoparticles composed of poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) or diblock copolymers of PEG-PLGA were similarly immobilized when coated with PVA (slowed 29,000- and 2500-fold, respectively). PVA coatings could not be adequately removed upon washing, and the residual PVA prevented sufficient coating with Pluronic F127 capable of reducing particle mucoadhesion. In contrast to PVA-coated particles, the similar sized PEG-coated formulations were slowed only ~6- to 10-fold in mucus compared to in water. Our results suggest that incorporating PVA in the particle formulation process may lead to the formation of mucoadhesive particles for many nanoparticulate systems. Thus, alternative methods for particle formulation, based on novel surfactants or changes in the formulation process, should be identified and developed in order to produce mucus-penetrating particles for mucosal applications.
Project description:In the body, mucus provides an important defense mechanism by limiting the penetration of pathogens. It is therefore also a major obstacle for the efficient delivery of particle-based drug carriers. The acidic stomach lining in particular is difficult to overcome because mucin glycoproteins form viscoelastic gels under acidic conditions. The bacterium Helicobacter pylori has developed a strategy to overcome the mucus barrier by producing the enzyme urease, which locally raises the pH and consequently liquefies the mucus. This allows the bacteria to swim through mucus and to reach the epithelial surface. We present an artificial system of reactive magnetic micropropellers that mimic this strategy to move through gastric mucin gels by making use of surface-immobilized urease. The results demonstrate the validity of this biomimetic approach to penetrate biological gels, and show that externally propelled microstructures can actively and reversibly manipulate the physical state of their surroundings, suggesting that such particles could potentially penetrate native mucus.
Project description:Antibodies that specifically bind polyethylene glycol (PEG) can lead to rapid elimination of PEGylated therapeutics from the systemic circulation. We have recently shown that virus-binding IgG can immobilize viruses in mucus via multiple low-affinity crosslinks between IgG and mucins. However, it remains unclear whether anti-PEG antibodies in mucus may also alter the penetration and consequently biodistribution of PEGylated nanoparticles delivered to mucosal surfaces. We found that both anti-PEG IgG and IgM can readily bind nanoparticles that were densely coated with PEG polymer to minimize adhesive interactions with mucus constituents. Addition of anti-PEG IgG and IgM into mouse cervicovaginal mucus resulted in extensive trapping of mucus-penetrating PEGylated nanoparticles, with the fraction of mobile particles reduced from over 95% to only 34% and 7% with anti-PEG IgG and IgM, respectively. Surprisingly, we did not observe significant agglutination induced by either antibody, suggesting that particle immobilization is caused by adhesive crosslinks between mucin fibers and IgG or IgM bound to individual nanoparticles. Importantly, addition of corresponding control antibodies did not slow the PEGylated nanoparticles, confirming anti-PEG antibodies specifically bound to and trapped the PEGylated nanoparticles. Finally, we showed that trapped PEGylated nanoparticles remained largely in the luminal mucus layer of the mouse vagina even when delivered in hypotonic formulations that caused untrapped particles to be drawn by the flow of water (advection) through mucus all the way to the epithelial surface. These results underscore the potential importance of elucidating mucosal anti-PEG immune responses for PEGylated therapeutics and biomaterials applied to mucosal surfaces.PEG, generally considered a 'stealth' polymer, is broadly used to improve the circulation times and therapeutic efficacy of nanomedicines. Nevertheless, there is increasing scientific evidence that demonstrates both animals and humans can generate PEG-specific antibodies. Here, we show that anti-PEG IgG and IgM can specifically immobilize otherwise freely diffusing PEG-coated nanoparticles in fresh vaginal mucus gel ex vivo by crosslinking nanoparticles to the mucin mesh, and consequently prevent PEG-coated nanoparticles from accessing the vaginal epithelium in vivo. Given the increasing use of PEG coatings to enhance nanoparticle penetration of mucosal barriers, our findings demonstrate that anti-PEG immunity may be a potential concern not only for systemic drug delivery but also for mucosal drug delivery.
Project description:A shortage of available organ donors has created a need for engineered tissues. In this context, polymer-based hydrogels that break down inside the body are often used as constructs for growth factors and cells. Herein, we report imine cross-linked gels where degradation is controllable by the introduction of mixed imine cross-links. Specifically, hydrazide-functionalized poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) reacts with aldehyde-functionalized PEG (PEG-CHO) to form hydrazone linked hydrogels that degrade quickly in media. The time to degradation can be controlled by changing the structure of the hydrazide group or by introducing hydroxylamines to form nonreversible oxime linkages. Hydrogels containing adipohydrazide-functionalized PEG (PEG-ADH) and PEG-CHO were found to degrade more rapidly than gels formed from carbodihydrazide-functionalized PEG (PEG-CDH). Incorporating oxime linkages via aminooxy-functionalized PEG (PEG-AO) into the hydrazone cross-linked gels further stabilized the hydrogels. This imine cross-linking approach should be useful for modulating the degradation characteristics of 3D cell culture supports for controlled cell release.
Project description:Oxime Click chemistry was used to form hydrogels that support cell adhesion. Eight-armed aminooxy poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) was mixed with glutaraldehyde to form oxime-linked hydrogels. The mechanical properties, gelation kinetics, and water swelling ratios were studied and found to be tunable. It was also shown that gels containing the integrin ligand arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) supported mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) incorporation. High cell viability and proliferation of the encapsulated cells demonstrated biocompatibility of the material.