Red Emitting, Cucurbituril-Capped, pH-Responsive Conjugated Oligomer-Based Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery and Cellular Imaging

Here we report the synthesis of nanoparticles based on a conjugated oligomer which is synthesized through Heck-coupling of divinylfluorene and dibromobenzothiodiazole monomers. These water dispersible nanoparticles emit in the region of red tailing to the near-infrared region of the spectrum with high fluorescent quantum yield and brightness. The nanoparticles were found to be stable in water for a prolonged time without forming any aggregates and could carry camptothecin, an anticancer drug with high loading efficiency. MTT cell viability studies performed with breast cancer cell lines showed that half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC<sub>50</sub>) values of nanoparticles for MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 were 44.7 μM and 24.8 μM, respectively. In order to further decrease the cytotoxicity and increase the stability of nanoparticles, amine groups were disguised by capping with cucurbit[7]­uril (CB7). Drug release studies showed that drugs were released at low pH (at 5.0) faster than physiological pH (7.4) confirming the pH-responsive nature of the nanoparticles. On the other hand, CB7-capped drug-loaded nanoparticles regulated the release rate by providing slower release at pH 7.4 than the nanoparticles in the absence of CB7s. IC<sub>50</sub> values for camptothecin in the presence of nanoparticles with or without CB7 were significantly reduced in MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells.