Magnetic Nanostructure-Loaded Bicontinuous Nanospheres Support Multicargo Intracellular Delivery and Oxidation-Responsive Morphological Transitions

Mallika Modak, Sharan Bobbala, Chamille Joanne Lescott, Yu Gang Liu, Vikas Nandwana, Vinayak P. Dravid, Evan A. Scott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Magnetic nanostructures (MNS) have a wide range of biological applications due to their biocompatibility, superparamagnetic properties, and customizable composition that includes iron oxide (Fe3O4), Zn2+, and Mn2+. However, several challenges to the biomedical usage of MNS must still be addressed, such as formulation stability, inability to encapsulate therapeutic payloads, and variable clearance rates in vivo. Here, we enhance the utility of MNS during controlled delivery applications via encapsulation within polymeric bicontinuous nanospheres (BCNs) composed of poly(ethylene glycol)-block-poly(propylene sulfide) (PEG-b-PPS) copolymers. PEG-b-PPS BCNs have demonstrated versatile encapsulation and delivery capabilities for both hydrophilic and hydrophobic payloads due to their unique and highly organized cubic phase nanoarchitecture. MNS-embedded BCNs (MBCNs) were thus coloaded with physicochemically diverse molecular payloads using the technique of flash nanoprecipitation and characterized in terms of their structure and in vivo biodistribution following intravenous administration. Retention of the internal aqueous channels and cubic architecture of MBCNs were verified using cryogenic transmission electron microscopy and small-angle X-ray scattering, respectively. MBCNs demonstrated improvement in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast enhancement (r2 relaxivity) as compared to free MNS, which in combination with scanning transmission electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy evidenced the clustering and continued access to water of MNS following encapsulation. Furthermore, MBCNs were found to be noncytotoxic and able to deliver their hydrophilic and hydrophobic small-molecule payloads both in vitro and in vivo. Finally, the oxidation sensitivity of the hydrophobic PPS block allowed MBCNs to undergo a unique, triggerable transition in morphology into MNS-bearing micellar nanocarriers. In summary, MBCNs are an attractive platform for the delivery of molecular and nanoscale payloads for diverse on-demand and sustained drug delivery applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55584-55595
Number of pages12
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 16 2020


  • bicontinuous nanospheres
  • drug delivery
  • magnetic nanostructures
  • nanoparticle
  • oxidation responsive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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