Precision intracellular delivery based on optofluidic polymersome rupture

Andreas E. Vasdekis, Evan A. Scott, Conlin P. O'Neil, Demetri Psaltis, Jeffrey A. Hubbell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


We present an optical approach for intracellular delivery of molecules contained within oxidation-sensitive polymersomes. The photosensitizer ethyl eosin is associated with the polymersome membrane to oxidatively increase the hydrophilicity of the hydrophobic block under optical excitation. This optofluidic interaction induces rapid polymersome rupture and payload release via the reorganization of the aggregate structure into smaller diameter vesicles and micelles. When the particles are endocytosed by phagocytes, such as RAW macrophages and dendritic cells, the polymersomes' payload escapes the endosome and is released in the cell cytosol within a few seconds of illumination. The released payload is rapidly distributed throughout the cytosol within milliseconds. The presented optofluidic method enables fast delivery and distribution throughout the cytosol of individual cells, comparable to photochemical internalization, but a factor of 100 faster than similar carrier mediated delivery methods (e.g., liposomes, polymersomes, or nanoparticles). Due to the ability to simultaneously induce payload delivery and endosomal escape, this approach can find applications in detailed characterizations of intra- and intercellular processes. As an example in quantitative cell biology, a peptide antigen was delivered in dendritic cells and MHC I presentation kinetics were measured at the single cell and single complex level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7850-7857
Number of pages8
JournalACS nano
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 25 2012


  • biophotonics
  • immunology
  • optofluidics
  • polymersomes
  • single-cell analysis
  • vesicles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Materials Science


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