Development of novel nanofibers targeted to smoke-injured lungs

Alexandra I. Mercel, Kathleen Marulanda, David C. Gillis, Kui Sun, Tristan D. Clemons, Smaranda Willcox, Jack Griffith, Erica B. Peters, Mark R. Karver, Nick D. Tsihlis, Rob Maile, Samuel I. Stupp, Melina R. Kibbe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Smoke inhalation injury is associated with significant mortality and current therapies remain supportive. The purpose of our study was to identify proteins upregulated in the lung after smoke inhalation injury and develop peptide amphiphile nanofibers that target these proteins. We hypothesize that nanofibers targeted to angiotensin-converting enzyme or receptor for advanced glycation end products will localize to smoke-injured lungs. Methods: Five targeting sequences were incorporated into peptide amphiphile monomers methodically to optimize nanofiber formation. Nanofiber formation was assessed by conventional transmission electron microscopy. Rats received 8 min of wood smoke. Levels of angiotensin-converting enzyme and receptor for advanced glycation end products were evaluated by immunofluorescence. Rats received the targeted nanofiber 23 h after injury via tail vein injection. Nanofiber localization was determined by fluorescence quantification. Results: Peptide amphiphile purity (>95%) and nanofiber formation were confirmed. Target proteins were increased in smoke inhalation versus sham (p < 0.001). After smoke inhalation and injection of targeted nanofibers, we found a 10-fold increase in angiotensin-converting enzyme-targeted nanofiber localization to lung (p < 0.001) versus sham with minimal localization of non-targeted nanofiber (p < 0.001). Conclusions: We synthesized, characterized, and evaluated systemically delivered targeted nanofibers that localized to the site of smoke inhalation injury in vivo. Angiotensin-converting enzyme-targeted nanofibers serve as the foundation for developing a novel nanotherapeutic that treats smoke inhalation lung injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number120862
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Animal Model
  • Burn
  • Nanotechnology
  • Peptide amphiphile
  • Pulmonary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials


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