Conditional Ultrasound Sensitivity of Poly[(N-isopropylacrylamide)-co-(vinyl imidazole)] Microgels for Controlled Lipase Release


Triggering the release of cargo from a polymer network by ultrasonication as an external, noninvasive stimulus can be an interesting concept for on-demand release. Here, it is shown that, in pH- and thermosensitive microgels, the ultrasound sensitivity of the polymer network depends on the external conditions. Crosslinked poly[(N-isopropylacrylamide)-co-(vinyl imidazole)] microgels showed a volume phase transition temperature (VPTT) of 25–50 °C, which increases with decreasing pH. Above the VPTT the polymer chains are collapsed, while below VPTT they are extended. Only in the case of maximum observed swelling, where the polymer chains are expanded, the microgels are mechanically fragmented through ultrasonication. In contrast, when the polymer chains are partially collapsed it is not possible to manipulate the microgels by ultrasound. Additionally, the ultrasound-induced on-demand release of wheat germ lipase from the microgels could be demonstrated successfully. The principle of conditional ultrasound sensitivity is likely to be general and can be used for selection of matrix–cargo combinations.
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