Indocyanine Green J Aggregates in Polymersomes for Near-Infrared Photoacoustic Imaging
Behzad Changalvaie, Sangheon Han, Ehsan Moaseri, Federica Scaletti, Lauren Truong, Rosalie Caplan, Alice Cao, Richard Bouchard, Thomas M. Truskett, Konstantin V. Sokolov, Keith P. JohnstonACS Applied Materials & Interfaces2019
Clinical translation of photoacoustic imaging (PAI) has been limited by the lack of near-infrared (NIR) contrast agents with low toxicity required for regulatory approval. Herein, J aggregates of indocyanine green (ICG) with strong NIR absorbance were encapsulated at high loadings within small 77 nm polymersomes (nanocapsules) composed of poly(lactide-co-glycolide-b-poly(ethylene glycol)) (PLGA-b-PEG) bilayers, thus enabling PAI of of breast and ovarian cancer cells with high specificity and a sensitivity at the level of ∼100 total cells. All of the major components of the polymersomes are FDA approved and used in the clinic. During formation of polymersomes with a water-in-oil-in-water double emulsion process, loss of ICG from the ICG J aggregates was minimized by coating them with a layer of branched polyethylenimine and by providing excess "sacrificial" ICG to adsorb at the oil-water interfaces. The encapsulated J aggregates were protected against dissociation by the polymersome shell for 24 h in 100% fetal bovine serum, after which the polymersomes biodegraded and the J aggregates dissociated to ICG monomers.