Scalable dextran-polypyrrole nano-assemblies with photothermal/photoacoustic dual capabilities and enhanced biocompatibility

Wanqiu Huang, Tao Leng, Miaomiao Gao, Qiangqiang Hu, Lingshan Liu, Hongjing Dou
Carbohydrate Polymers2020
Polypyrroles have shown great potential in photoacoustic imaging and photothermal therapy owing to its excellent photothermal conversion capabilities. However, the synthesis of polypyrrole-based nano-assemblies which have colloidal stability in biological buffers requires a number of steps, including the polymerization of pyrrole monomers, self-assembly of polypyrrole-based copolymers, and even an additional step to increase the biocompatibility of the nano-assemblies. Herein, a “polymerization/assembly” two-in-one synthesis is proposed for the first time to achieve the one-step synthesis of a new family of polypyrrole-based nano-assemblies, dextran-polypyrrole nano-assemblies (Dex-PPy NAs), under ambient conditions and in aqueous media. In addition, the approach employs tetravalent cerium ions as initiators which can initiate the polymerization of pyrrole monomers through the initiation of free radicals from dextran molecular chains. The resultant Dex-PPy NAs have a photothermal conversion efficiency reaching as high as 41 % and an excellent photostability. More importantly, the NAs with controllable nanoscale dimensions display no signs of cytotoxicity in both in vitro and in vivo studies owing to their biocompatible dextran “shell”. An in vivo study further confirmed that the Dex-PPy NAs have excellent real-time photoacoustic imaging and photothermal therapy capabilities for malignant tumors. Therefore, this study represents an important step towards the scalable synthesis of polypyrrole-based nano-assemblies with photothermal/photoacoustic dual capabilities and enhanced biocompatibility.
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