Fabrication and characterisation of a photo-responsive, injectable nanosystem for sustained delivery of macromolecules

Pakama Mahlumba, Pradeep Kumar, Lisa C. du Toit, Madan S. Poka, Philemon Ubanako, Yahya E. Choonara*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The demand for biodegradable sustained release carriers with minimally invasive and less frequent administration properties for therapeutic proteins and peptides has increased over the years. The purpose of achieving sustained minimally invasive and site-specific delivery of macro-molecules led to the investigation of a photo-responsive delivery system. This research explored a biodegradable prolamin, zein, modified with an azo dye (DHAB) to synthesize photo-responsive azoprolamin (AZP) nanospheres loaded with Immunoglobulin G (IgG). AZP nanospheres were in-corporated in a hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogel to develop a novel injectable photo-responsive nanosystem (HA-NSP) as a potential approach for the treatment of chorio-retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy. AZP nanospheres were pre-pared via coacervation technique, dispersed in HA hydrogel and characterised via infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Size and morphol-ogy were studied via scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and dynamic light scattering (DLS), UV spectroscopy for photo-responsiveness. Rheological properties and injectability were investigated, as well as cytotoxicity effect on HRPE cell lines. Particle size obtained was <200 nm and photo-responsiveness to UV = 365 nm by decreasing particle diameter to 94 nm was confirmed by DLS. Encapsulation efficiency of the optimised nanospheres was 85% and IgG was released over 32 days up to 60%. Injectability of HA-NSP was confirmed with maximum force 10 N required and shear-thinning behaviour observed in rheology studies. In vitro cell cytotoxicity effect of both NSPs and HA-NSP showed non-cytotoxicity with relative cell viability of ≥80%. A biocompatible, biodegradable injectable photo-responsive nanosystem for sustained release of macromolecular IgG was suc-cessfully developed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3359
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodegrada-ble
  • Hydrogel
  • Injectable
  • Macromolecules
  • Nanospheres
  • Photo-responsive
  • Sustained release
  • Zein


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