Polymeric Premicelles as Efficient Lipophilic Nanocarriers: Extending Drug Uptake to the Submicellar Regime

María Méndez-Pérez, Belén Vaz, Luis García-Río, and Moisés Pérez-Lorenzo
Langmuir, 2013, 29, 11251–11259


A multitechnique investigation on the self-assembly behavior of a biocompatible polymer in the high dilution regime is reported herein. The obtained results unambiguously reveal the existence of premicellar structures that may further extend the efficiency of traditional polymeric micelles as drug-delivery vehicles. Such an expansion in the excipient capacity arises from (i) the increased drug retention of submicellar assemblies due to their higher resistance to dilution and therefore to their improved circulation time and (ii) the superior carrier permeability of these premicellar aggregates as a result of their smaller size, which makes these drug vehicles more effectively targeted to the tumors through the so-called enhanced permeability and retention effect. The uptake ability of the polymeric premicelles described in this work has been tested through the use of Nile Red as drug model given its intermediate lipophilicity (log P ≈ 3–5) similar to that of potent chemotherapy agents and its microenvironment-sensitive fluorescence properties relevant for localization purposes. Thus, it has been found that an efficient drug encapsulation can be achieved under conditions well below the normally required critical micelle concentration. These results may constitute a promising strategy in order to develop new and more efficient polymeric formulations in drug delivery technology.