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Pharm Res. 2002 Jul;19(7):1061-7.

Long-circulating poly(ethylene glycol)-modified gelatin nanoparticles for intracellular delivery.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



The objective of this study was to develop and characterize long-circulating, biodegradable, and biocompatible nanoparticulate formulation as an intracellular delivery vehicle.


Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-modified gelatin was synthesized by reacting Type-B gelatin with PEG-epoxide. The nanoparticles, prepared by pH and temperature controlled ethanol-water solvent displacement technique, were characterized for mean size, size distribution, and surface morphology. Electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA) was used to confirm the surface presence of PEG chains. In vitro release of tetramethylrhodamine-labeled dextran (TMR-dextran, Mol. wt. 10,000 daltons) from the nanoparticle formulations was examined in PBS, with and without 0.2-mg/ml protease, at 37 degrees C. Relative cytotoxicity profile of control and PEGylated gelatin was evaluated in BT-20 a human breast cancer cell line. The nanoparticles were incubated with BT-20 cells to determine uptake and cellular distribution using confocal microscopy.


Gelatin and PEGylated gelatin nanoparticles were found to be spherical in shape with a smooth surface in a size range of 200-500 nm and a unimodal size distribution. ESCA results showed an increase in the ether carbon (-C-O-) peak in the PEGylated gelatin nanoparticles due to the presence of PEG chains. The presence of PEG chains decreased the percent release of TMR-dextran in the presence of proteolytic enzyme due to steric repulsion. Cytotoxicity assays indicated that both gelatin and PEGylated gelatin were completely non-toxic to the cells. A large fraction of the administered control gelatin and PEGylated gelatin nanoparticles were found to be concentrated in the perinuclear region of the BT-20 cells after 12 hours indicating possible vesicular transport through initial uptake by endocytosis and endosomal processing.


The results of this study show that PEGylation of gelatin may prove beneficial as long-circulating delivery system in vivo. Additionally, the nanoparticles could encapsulate hydrophilic macromolecules and are internalized by tumor cells.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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