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Biotechnol J. 2013 Jul;8(7):847-54. doi: 10.1002/biot.201300093. Epub 2013 Jun 7.

Facile preparation of well-defined near-monodisperse chitosan/sodium alginate polyelectrolyte complex nanoparticles (CS/SAL NPs) via ionotropic gelification: a suitable technique for drug delivery systems.

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Key Laboratory of Nonferrous Metal Chemistry and Resources Utilization of Gansu Province, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China.


Polymeric nanoparticles have emerged as a promising approach for drug delivery systems. We prepared chitosan (CS)/sodium alginate (SAL) polyelectrolyte complex nanoparticles (CS/SAL NPs) via a simple and mild ionic gelation method by adding a CS solution to a SAL solution, and investigated the effects of molecular weight of the added CS, and the SAL:CS mass ratio on the formation of the polyelectrolyte complex nanoparticles. The well-defined CS/SAL NPs with near-monodisperse particle size of about 160 nm exhibited a pH stable structure, and pH responsive properties with a negatively or positively charged surface. The so-called "electrostatic sponge" structure of the polyelectrolyte complex nanoparticles enhanced their drug-loading capacity towards the differently charged model drug molecules, and favored controlled release. We also found that the drug-loading capacity was influenced by the nature of the drugs and the drug-loading media, while drug release was affected by the solubility of the drugs in the drug-releasing media. The biocompatibility and biodegradability of the polyelectrolytes in the polyelectrolyte complex nanoparticles were maintained by ionic interactions. These results indicate that CS/SAL NPs can represent a useful technique for pH-responsive drug delivery systems.


Drug delivery system; Electrostatic sponge; Ionic gelation; Polyelectrolyte complex; Well-defined nanoparticles

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