Polyketal nanoparticles: a new pH-sensitive biodegradable drug delivery vehicle

Bioconjug Chem. 2005 Nov-Dec;16(6):1340-2. doi: 10.1021/bc050176w.


In this report, we present an acid-sensitive drug delivery vehicle, termed polyketal nanoparticles, which are designed to target therapeutics to the acidic environments of tumors, inflammatory tissues, and phagosomes. The polyketal nanoparticles are formulated from poly(1,4-phenyleneacetone dimethylene ketal) (PPADK), a new hydrophobic polymer which contains ketal linkages in its backbone. The polyketal nanoparticles undergo acid-catalyzed hydrolysis into low molecular weight hydrophilic compounds and should therefore release encapsulated therapeutics at an accelerated rate in acidic environments. Importantly, the polyketal nanoparticles do not generate acidic degradation products after hydrolysis, as with polyester-based biomaterials. Dexamethasone-loaded nanoparticles, 200-600 nm in diameter, were fabricated with PPADK via an emulsion procedure using chloroform and water. The hydrolysis half-life of PPADK was measured to be 102 h at pH 7.4 and 35 h at pH 5.0. PPADK was synthesized by a new polymerization strategy based on the acetal exchange reaction. This new delivery system should find numerous applications in the field of drug delivery because of its ease of synthesis and excellent degradation properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Dexamethasone / administration & dosage
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Half-Life
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hydrolysis
  • Nanostructures*
  • Polymers* / pharmacokinetics


  • Polymers
  • Dexamethasone