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Polymer-based therapeutic strategies require biomaterials with properties and functions tailored to the demands of specific applications leading to an increasing number of newly designed polymers. For the evaluation of those new materials, comprehensive biocompatibility studies including cyto-, tissue-, and immunocompatibility are essential. Recently, it could be demonstrated that star-shaped amino oligo(ethylene glycol)s (sOEG) with a number average molecular weight of 5 kDa and functionalized with the phenol-derived moieties desaminotyrosine (DAT) or desaminotyrosyl tyrosine (DATT) behave in aqueous solution like surfactants without inducing a substantial cytotoxicity, which may qualify them as solubilizer for hydrophobic drugs in aqueous solution. However, for biomedical applications the polymer solutions need to be free of immunogenic contaminations, which could result from inadequate laboratory environment or contaminated starting material. Furthermore, the materials should not induce uncontrolled or undesired immunological effects arising from material intrinsic properties. Therefore, a comprehensive immunological evaluation as perquisite for application of each biomaterial batch is required. This study investigated the immunological properties of sOEG-DAT(T) solutions, which were prepared using sOEG with number average molecular weights of 5 kDa, 10 kDa, and 20 kDa allowing analyzing the influence of the sOEG chain lengths on innate immune mechanisms. A macrophage-based assay was used to first demonstrate that all DAT(T)-sOEG solutions are free of endotoxins and other microbial contaminations such as fungal products. In the next step, the capacity of the different DAT(T)-functionalized sOEG solutions to induce cytokine secretion and generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was investigated using whole human blood. It was observed that low levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin(IL)-1β and IL-6 were detected for all sOEG solutions but only when used at concentrations above 250 µg·mL-1. Furthermore, only the 20 kDa sOEG-DAT induced low amounts of ROS-producing monocytes. Conclusively, the data indicate that the materials were not contaminated with microbial products and do not induce substantial immunological adverse effects in vitro, which is a prerequisite for future biological applications.
Polymer-based, degradable microparticles (MP) are attractive delivery vehicles for vaccines as the polymer properties can be specifically tailored and the carrier can be loaded with adjuvant. For all newly developed carrier systems it is important to analyze cellular uptake efficiency and the specific effects mediated by the encapsulated agent when phagocytosed by the cells, which is barely reported so far. By the encapsulation of N-acetylmuramyl-L-alanyl-D-isoglutamine (MDP) labeled with fluoresceinisothiocyanat (FITC) in poly[(rac-lactide)-co-glycolide] (PLGA) MP, the MP was fluorescent and used to visualize the phagocytic uptake. Since encapsulated MDP can activate dendritic cells (DC) via the cytosolic nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain receptors (NOD), it can be investigated whether only cells that have phagocytosed the MP are activated or whether bystander effects occur, resulting in activation of cells, which did not take up MDP-FITC loaded MP. Here, it is demonstrated that increasing MP concentrations in the culture medium had no impact on the viability of DC and that the MP uptake efficiency was dose dependent. Interestingly, it could be shown by the CD86 expression, that only DC, which had engulfed MP, were significantly stronger activated than DC, which had not phagocytosed MDP-FITC loaded MP. On the one hand these results indicate that sufficient amounts of MDP were released from the PLGA carriers into the cytosol of the DC. On the other hand, based on the correlation of uptake and activation on the single cell level, minimal MP induced bystander effects may be expected for in vivo applications.
Biomaterials require thorough in vitro testing before being applied in vivo. Unwanted contaminations of biomaterials but also their intrinsic properties can cause uncontrolled immune response leading to severe consequences for the patient. Therefore, immunological evaluation of materials for biomedical applications is mandatory before entering clinical application. In order to introduce physical netpoints, the aromatic compounds desaminotyrosine (DAT) and desaminotyrosyl-tyrosine (DATT) were successfully used to functionalize linear and star-shaped oligoethylene glycol (lOEG and sOEG) as previously described. The materials showed properties of surfactants and have potential to be used for solubilization of lipophilic drugs in water. Furthermore, the materials are susceptible for H2O2 degradation as determined by MALDI-ToF MS analyses. This is important for potential in vivo applications, as macrophages can release reactive oxygen species (ROS) under inflammatory conditions. As it is known that surfactant solutions of high concentration can lead to cell lysis, the effects of OEG-DAT(T) solutions on murine RAW macrophages were investigated. Even at highest OEG-DAT(T) concentration of 1000 µg·mL-1 the viability of the RAW cells was not significantly impaired. Additionally, the polymers were incubated with whole human blood and the production of inflammatory cytokines such as the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and interleukin (IL)-6 was determined. Only at high concentrations, the OEG-DAT(T) solution induced low levels of TNF-α and IL-6, indicating that a mild inflammatory reaction could be expected when such high OEG-DAT(T) concentrations are applied in vivo. Similarly, the OEG-DAT(T) solution did not induce ROS in monocytes and neutrophils after incubation with whole human blood. Conclusively, the data presented here demonstrate that OEG-DAT(T) do not lead to a substantial activation of the innate immune mechanisms and could therefore be investigated for solubilizing pharmaceutical agents.
A major goal in the field of regenerative medicine is to improve our understanding of how biomaterial properties affect cells of the immune system. Systematic variation of defined chemical properties could help to understand which factors determine and modulate cellular responses. A series of copolymers poly[acrylonitrile-co-(N-vinylpyrrolidone)]s (P(AN-co-NVP)) served as model system, in which increasing hydrophilicity was adjusted by increasing the content related to the NVP based repeating units (nNVP) (0, 4.6, 11.8, 22.3, and 29.4 mol%). The influence of increasing nNVP contents on cellular response of human primary monocyte derived dendritic cells (DC), which play a key role in the initiation of immune responses, was investigated. It was shown using the LAL-Test as well as a macrophage-based assay, that the materials were free of endotoxins and other microbial contaminations, which could otherwise bias the readout of the DC experiments. The increasing nNVP content led to a slightly increased cell death of DC, whereas the activation status of DC was not systematically altered by the different P(AN-co-NVP)s as demonstrated by the expression of co-stimulatory molecule and cytokine secretion. Similarly, under inflammatory conditions mimicked by the addition of lipopolysaccharides (LPS), neither the expression of co-stimulatory molecules nor the release of cytokines was influenced by the different copolymers. Conclusively, our data showed that this class of copolymers does not substantially influence the viability and the activation status of DC.
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