Journal article Open Access

Star poly(-caprolactone)-based electrospun fibers as biocompatible scaffold for doxorubicin with prolonged drug release activity

Preethi Bala Balakrishnan; Lorenza Gardella; Mahdi Forouharshad; Teresa Pellegrino; Orietta Monticelli

In this work, a novel drug delivery system consisting of poly(-caprolactone) (PCL) electrospun fibers
containing an ad-hoc-synthesized star polymer made up of a poly(amido-amine) (PAMAM) core and PCL
branches (PAMAM-PCL) was developed. The latter system which was synthesized via the ring opening
polymerization of -caprolactone, starting from a hydroxyl-terminated PAMAM dendrimer and characterized
by means of 1H NMR, IR and DSC, was found to be compatible with both the polymer matrix and a
hydrophilic chemotherapeutic drug, doxorubicin (DOXO), the model drug used in this work. The preparation
of the dendritic PCL star product with an average arm length of 2000 g/mol was characterized using
IR and 1H NMR measurements. The prepared star polymer possessed a higher crystallinity and a lower
melting temperature than that of the used linear PCL. Electrospun fibers were prepared starting from
solutions containing the neat PCL as well as the PCL/PAMAM-PCL mixture. Electrospinning conditions
were optimized in order to obtain defect free fibers, which was proven by the structural FE-SEM study.
PAMAM moieties enhanced the hydrophilicity of the fibers, as proved by comparing the water
absorption for the PCL/PAMAM-PCL fibers to that neat PCL fibers. The drug-loaded system PCL/PAMAMPCL
was prepared by directly introducing DOXO into the electrospinning solutions. The DOXO-loaded
PCL/PAMAM-PCL showed a prolonged release of the drug with respect to the DOXO-loaded PCL fibers
and elicited effective controlled toxicity over A431 epidermoid carcinoma, HeLa cervical cancer cells and
drug resistant MCF-7 breast cancer cells. On the contrary, the drug-free PCL/PAMAM-PCL scaffold demonstrated
no toxic effects on human dermal fibroblasts, suggesting the biocompatibility of the proposed
system which can be used in cellular scaffold applications.

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