All-atom molecular dynamics study of a spherical micelle composed of N-acetylated poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(gamma-benzyl L-glutamate) block copolymers: a potential carrier of drug delivery systems for cancer

J Phys Chem B. 2009 Nov 19;113(46):15181-8. doi: 10.1021/jp906155z.


An all-atom molecular dynamics simulation of a spherical micelle composed of amphiphilic N-acetylated poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(gamma-benzyl L-glutamate) (PEG-PBLG-Ac) block copolymers was performed in aqueous solution at 298.15 K and 1 atm. Such copolymers have received considerable attention as carriers in drug delivery systems. In this study, we used copolymers consisting of 11 EG units and 9 BLG units as models. Starting from the copolymers arranged spherically, the calculation predicted an equilibrium state consisting of a slightly elliptical micelle structure with a hydrophobic PBLG inner core and a hydrophilic PEG outer shell. The micelle structure was dynamically stable during the simulation, with the PEG blocks showing a compact helical conformation and the PBLG blocks an alpha-helix form. Multiple hydrogen bonds with solvent water molecules stabilized the helical conformation of the PEG blocks, leading to their hydration as shown by longer residence times of water molecules near the PEG ether oxygen atoms compared with that of bulk water. Some water molecules have also been found distributed within the hydrophobic core; they showed continuous exchange with bulk water during the simulation. Those molecules existed mostly as a cluster in spaces between the copolymers, forming hydrogen bonds among themselves as well as with the hydrophobic core through hydrophilic groups such as esters and amides. The water molecules forming hydrogen bonds with the micelle may play an important role in the stabilization of the micelle structure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Drug Carriers
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Micelles*
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry*
  • Polyglutamic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Polyglutamic Acid / chemistry
  • Polymers / chemistry*


  • Drug Carriers
  • Micelles
  • Polymers
  • poly-gamma-benzyl-L-glutamate
  • Polyglutamic Acid
  • Polyethylene Glycols