Regulation of Drug Release by Tuning Surface Textures of Biodegradable Polymer Microparticles

Generally, size, uniformity, shape, and surface chemistry of biodegradable polymer particles will significantly affect the drug-release behavior in vitro and in vivo. In this study, uniform poly­(d,l-lactic-<i>co</i>-glycolide) (PLGA) and PLGA-<i>b</i>-poly­(ethylene glycol) (PLGA-<i>b</i>-PEG) microparticles with tunable surface textures were generated by combining the interfacial instabilities of emulsion droplet and polymer-blending strategy. Monodisperse emulsion droplets containing polymers were generated through the microfluidic flow-focusing technique. The removal of organic solvent from the droplets triggered the interfacial instabilities (spontaneous increase in interfacial area), leading to the formation of uniform polymer particles with textured surfaces. With the introduction of homopolymer PLGA to PLGA-<i>b</i>-PEG, the hydrophobicity of the polymer system was tailored, and a qualitatively different interfacial behavior of the emulsion droplets during solvent removal was observed. Uniform polymer particles with tunable surface roughness were thus generated by changing the ratio of PLGA-<i>b</i>-PEG in the polymer blends. More interestingly, surface textures of the particles determined the drug-loading efficiency and release kinetics of the encapsulated hydrophobic paclitaxel, which followed a diffusion-directed drug-release pattern. The polymer particles with different surface textures demonstrated good cell viability and biocompatibility, indicating the promising role of the particles in the fields of drug or gene delivery for tumor therapy, vaccines, biodiagnostics, and bioimaging.