Facile Functionalization of Gold Nanoparticles with PLGA Polymer Brushes and Efficient Encapsulation into PLGA Nanoparticles: Toward Spatially Precise Bioimaging of Polymeric Nanoparticles

Alkilany, Alaaldin M., Samer R. Abulateefeh, and Catherine J. Murphy. "Facile Functionalization of Gold Nanoparticles with PLGA Polymer Brushes and Efficient Encapsulation into PLGA Nanoparticles: Toward Spatially Precise Bioimaging of Polymeric Nanoparticles." Particle & Particle Systems Characterization (2018): 1800414.

Abstract
Nanocarriers prepared from poly(lactide‐co‐glycolide) (PLGA) have broad biomedical applications. Understanding their cellular uptake and distribution requires appropriate visualization in complex biological compartments with high spatial resolution, which cannot be offered by traditional imaging techniques based on fluorescent or radioactive probes. Herein, the encapsulation of gold nanoparticles (GNPs) into PLGA nanoparticles is proposed, which should allow precise spatial visualization in cells using electron microscopy. Available protocols for encapsulating GNPs into polymeric matrices are limited and associated with colloidal instability and low encapsulation efficiency. In this report, the following are described: 1) a facile protocol to functionalize GNPs with PLGA polymer followed by 2) encapsulation of the prepared PLGA‐capped GNPs into PLGA nanocarriers with 100% encapsulation efficiency. The remarkable encapsulation of PLGA‐GNPs into PLGA matrix obeys the general rule in chemistry “like dissolves like” as evident from poor encapsulation of GNPs capped with other polymers. Moreover, it is shown that how the encapsulated gold nanoparticles serve as nanoprobes to visualize PLGA polymeric hosts inside cancer cells at the spatial resolution of the electron microscope. The described methods should be applicable to a wide range of inorganic nanoprobes and provide a new method of labeling pharmaceutical polymeric nanocarriers to understand their biological fate at high spatial resolution.

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