Block ionomer complexes as prospective nanocontainers for drug delivery

Kyung T. Oh, Tatiana K. Bronich, Lev Bromberg, T. Alan Hatton, Alexander V. Kabanov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Nanosized environmentally responsive materials are of special interest for various applications, including drug delivery. Block ionomer complexes (BIC) composed of graft-comb copolymers of Pluronic and poly(acrylic acid) (Pluronic-PAA) and a model cationic surfactant, hexadecyltrimethylammonium bromide (HTAB), were synthesized by mixing the polymer and surfactant in aqueous media. According to TEM, the resulting BIC represented spherical particles of nanoscale size (50 to 100 nm). The stability of the BIC in the aqueous dispersion depended on the lengths of the hydrophilic poly(ethylene oxide) and hydrophobic poly(propylene oxide) chains in Pluronic molecules as well as on the surface charge of the resulting complexes. The latter was controlled by changing the ratio of the Pluronic-PAA and HTAB in the BIC and by changing the pH due to reversible ionization of the PAA chains. The acidification of the media below pH 6.0 resulted in the appearance of a strong positive charge on the BIC, which in the intracellular environment can trigger interaction of such BIC with the cell membranes. An efficient solubilization of a model hydrophobic molecule, Sudan III, and a drug, Etoposide, in such BIC was demonstrated with the loading capacities of about 6 to 15% by weight of the dispersed complex. Overall, these BIC wield a promise as environmentally responsive nanocarriers for pharmaceuticals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 28 2006


  • Block ionomer complex
  • Drug delivery
  • Nanomedicine
  • Pluronic
  • Solubilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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