Synthesis and Characterization of CoreShell Star Copolymers for In Vivo PET Imaging Applications.

graphical abstract
Fukukawa, K.I.; Rossin, R.; Hagooly, A.; Pressly, E.D.; Hunt, J.N.; Messmore, B.W.; Wooley, K.L.; Welch, M.J.; Hawker, C.J.;
9, 1329-1339.

The synthesis of core–shell star copolymers via living free radical polymerization provides a convenient route to three-dimensional nanostructures having a poly(ethylene glycol) outer shell, a hydrophilic inner shell bearing reactive functional groups, and a central hydrophobic core. By starting with well-defined linear diblock copolymers, the thickness of each layer, overall size/molecular weight, and the number of internal reactive functional groups can be controlled accurately, permitting detailed structure/performance information to be obtained. Functionalization of these polymeric nanoparticles with a DOTA-ligand capable of chelating radioactive 64Cu nuclei enabled the biodistribution and in vivo positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of these materials to be studied and correlated directly to the initial structure. Results indicate that nanoparticles with increasing PEG shell thickness show increased blood circulation and low accumulation in excretory organs, suggesting application as in vivo carriers for imaging, targeting, and therapeutic groups.