We present a potential theranostic delivery platform based on the amphiphilic diblock copolymer polybutadiene-block
-poly (ethylene oxide) combining covalent fluorescent labeling and membrane incorporation of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles for multimodal imaging. A simple self-assembly and labeling approach to create the fluorescent and magnetic vesicles is described. Cell uptake of the densely PEGylated polymer vesicles could be altered by surface modifications that vary surface charge and accessibility of the membrane active species. Cell uptake and cytotoxicity were evaluated by confocal microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, iron content and metabolic assays, utilizing multimodal tracking of membrane fluorophores and nanoparticles. Cationic functionalization of vesicles promoted endocytotic uptake. In particular, incorporation of cationic lipids in the polymersome membrane yielded tremendously increased uptake of polymersomes and magnetopolymersomes without increase in cytotoxicity. Ultrastructure investigations showed that cationic magnetopolymersomes disintegrated upon hydrolysis, including the dissolution of incorporated iron oxide nanoparticles. The presented platform could find future use in theranostic multimodal imaging in vivo
and magnetically triggered delivery by incorporation of thermorepsonsive amphiphiles that can break the membrane integrity upon magnetic heating via the embedded superparamagnetic nanoparticles.
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