Theranostic Copolymers Neutralize Reactive Oxygen Species and Lipid Peroxidation Products for the Combined Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury

Aaron Priester, Richard Waters, Ashleigh Abbott, Krista Hilmas, Klaus Woelk, Hunter A. Miller, Aria W. Tarudji, Connor C. Gee, Brandon McDonald, Forrest M. Kievit, Anthony J. Convertine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) results in the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and lipid peroxidation product (LPOx), including acrolein and 4-hydroxynonenal (4HNE). The presence of these biochemical derangements results in neurodegeneration during the secondary phase of the injury. The ability to rapidly neutralize multiple species could significantly improve outcomes for TBI patients. However, the difficulty in creating therapies that target multiple biochemical derangements simultaneously has greatly limited therapeutic efficacy. Therefore, our goal was to design a material that could rapidly bind and neutralize both ROS and LPOx following TBI. To do this, a series of thiol-functionalized biocompatible copolymers based on lipoic acid methacrylate and polyethylene glycol monomethyl ether methacrylate (FW ∼950 Da) (O950) were prepared. A polymerizable gadolinium-DOTA methacrylate monomer (Gd-MA) was also synthesized starting from cyclen to facilitate direct magnetic resonance imaging and in vivo tracking of accumulation. These neuroprotective copolymers (NPCs) were shown to rapidly and effectively neutralize both ROS and LPOx. Horseradish peroxidase absorbance assays showed that the NPCs efficiently neutralized H2O2, while R-phycoerythrin protection assays demonstrated their ability to protect the fluorescent protein from oxidative damage. 1H NMR studies indicated that the thiol-functional NPCs rapidly form covalent bonds with acrolein, efficiently removing it from solution. In vitro cell studies with SH-SY5Y-differentiated neurons showed that NPCs provide unique protection against toxic concentrations of both H2O2and acrolein. NPCs rapidly accumulate and are retained in the injured brain in controlled cortical impact mice and reduce post-traumatic oxidative stress. Therefore, these materials show promise for improved target engagement of multiple biochemical derangements in hopes of improving TBI therapeutic outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1703-1712
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 11 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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