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Soft Matter. 2014 Feb 7;10(5):729-37. doi: 10.1039/c3sm51873f.

Physical characterization of alginate-Pluronic F127 gel for endoluminal NABDs delivery.

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Department of Engineering and Architecture, University of Trieste, Via Alfonso Valerio, 6/A, I-34127 Trieste, Italy.


Here we focus the attention on the physical characteristics of a highly biocompatible hydrogel made up of crosslinked alginate and Pluronic F127 (PF127). This is a composite polymeric blend we propose for artery endoluminal delivery of an emerging class of molecules named nucleic acid based drugs (NABDs). The physical characterization of our composite gel, i.e. mesh size distribution and PF127-alginate mutual organization after crosslinking, can significantly determine the NABDs release kinetics. Thus, to explore these aspects, different technical approaches, i.e. rheology, low/high field NMR and TEM, were used. While rheology provided information at the macroscopic and nano-level, the other three approaches gave details at the nano-level. We observe that Pluronic micelles, organizing in cubic ordered domains, generate, upon alginate crosslinking, the formation of meshes (≈ 150 nm) larger than those occurring in a Pluronic-free alginate network (≈ 25 nm). Nevertheless, smaller alginate meshes are still on and can just host un-structured Pluronic micelles and water. Accordingly, the gel structure is quite inhomogeneous, where big meshes (filled by crystalline Pluronic) co-exist with smaller meshes (hosting water and un-structured PF127 micelles). While big meshes offer a considerable hindering action on a diffusing solute, smaller ones represent a sort of free space where solute diffusion is faster. The presence of big and small meshes indicates that drug release may follow a double kinetics characterized by a fast and slow release. Notably, this behavior is considered appropriate for endoluminal drug release to the arterial wall.

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