Human neutrophil elastase responsive delivery from poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels

Biomacromolecules. 2009 Jun 8;10(6):1484-9. doi: 10.1021/bm9000926.


A novel enzyme-responsive hydrogel drug delivery system was developed with the potential to treat inflammation locally. Human neutrophil elastase (HNE) is a serine protease secreted by neutrophils which are the first cells recruited to inflammatory sites. We exploited this cell-secreted enzyme as a biological cue for controlled release. HNE sensitive peptide linkers were immobilized within poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels using photopolymerization techniques. The kinetics of the enzyme reaction within the gel was tailored by varying the amino acid residues present in the P1 and P1' substrate positions (immediately adjacent to cleavage location). A novel FRET-based hydrogel platform was designed to characterize the accessibility of the substrate within the cross-linked, macroscopic hydrogel. Lastly, a diffusion-reaction mathematical model with Michaelis-Menten kinetics was developed to predict the overall release profile and captured the initial 80% of the experimentally observed release. The hydrogel platform presented shows highly controlled release kinetics with potential applications in cellular responsive drug delivery.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels*
  • Leukocyte Elastase / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Polyethylene Glycols / administration & dosage
  • Polyethylene Glycols / pharmacokinetics
  • Polyethylene Glycols / pharmacology*
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Hydrogels
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Leukocyte Elastase