Stimuli-Responsive Polymeric Nanocarriers for Drug Delivery, Imaging, and Theragnosis
In the past few decades, polymeric nanocarriers have been recognized as promising tools and have gained attention from researchers for their potential to efficiently deliver bioactive compounds, including drugs, proteins, genes, nucleic acids, etc., in pharmaceutical and biomedical applications. Remarkably, these polymeric nanocarriers could be further modified as stimuli-responsive systems based on the mechanism of triggered release, i.e., response to a specific stimulus, either endogenous
... enzymes, temperature, redox values, hypoxia, glucose levels) or exogenous (light, magnetism, ultrasound, electrical pulses) for the effective biodistribution and controlled release of drugs or genes at specific sites. Various nanoparticles (NPs) have been functionalized and used as templates for imaging systems in the form of metallic NPs, dendrimers, polymeric NPs, quantum dots, and liposomes. The use of polymeric nanocarriers for imaging and to deliver active compounds has attracted considerable interest in various cancer therapy fields. So-called smart nanopolymer systems are built to respond to certain stimuli such as temperature, pH, light intensity and wavelength, and electrical, magnetic and ultrasonic fields. Many imaging techniques have been explored including optical imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear imaging, ultrasound, photoacoustic imaging (PAI), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and positron emission tomography (PET). This review reports on the most recent developments in imaging methods by analyzing examples of smart nanopolymers that can be imaged using one or more imaging techniques. Unique features, including nontoxicity, water solubility, biocompatibility, and the presence of multiple functional groups, designate polymeric nanocues as attractive nanomedicine candidates. In this context, we summarize various classes of multifunctional, polymeric, nano-sized formulations such as liposomes, micelles, nanogels, and dendrimers.