Rapid transport of germ-mimetic nanoparticles with dual conformational polyethylene glycol chains in biological tissues

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Science Advances  07 Feb 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 6, eaay9937
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay9937


Polyethylene glycols (PEGs) can improve the diffusivity of nanoparticles (NPs) in biological hydrogels, while extended PEG chains severely impede cellular uptake of NPs. Inspired by invasive germs with flagellum-driven mucus-penetrating and fimbriae-mediated epithelium-adhering abilities, we developed germ-mimetic NPs (GMNPs) to overcome multiple barriers in mucosal and tumor tissues. In vitro studies and computational simulations revealed that the tip-specific extended PEG chains on GMNP functioned similarly to flagella, facilitating GMNP diffusion (up to 83.0-fold faster than their counterparts). Meanwhile, the packed PEG chains on the bodies of GMNP mediated strong adhesive interactions with cells similarly to the fimbriae, preserving cellular uptake efficiency. The in vivo results proved the superior tumor permeability and improved oral bioavailability provided by the GMNP (21.9-fold over administration of crystalline drugs). These findings offer useful guidelines for the rational design of NPs by manipulating surface polymer conformation to realize multiple functions and to enhance delivery efficacy.

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