Dynamics of cellular entry and drug delivery by dendritic polymers into human lung epithelial carcinoma cells

Sujatha Kannan, Parag Kolhe, Vania Raykova, Maria Glibatec, Rangaramanujam M. Kannan, Mary Lieh-Lai, David Bassett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dendrimers and hyperbranched polymers are emerging as potentially ideal drug delivery vehicles because they provide a significant amount of tailorability and a large density of functional groups. This study explores the dynamics of cellular entry of dendrimers and hyperbranched polymers alone, and in the complexed form with ibuprofen, into A549 human lung epithelial carcinoma cells using UV/Vis spectroscopy, flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy. Both dendrimers and hyperbranched polymers appear to enter these cells rapidly. The polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendrimers, with NH2 and OH end functionalities appear to enter cells (in approx. 1 h) faster than the hyperbranched polyol (OH functionality) (in approx. 2 h). Cellular entry of PAMAM-NH2 was detected as early as 5 min. All branched polymers and their ibuprofen complexes entered A549 lung epithelial cells rapidly when compared to the pure drug. The drug payload was about 50% by weight in the complexes formed by PAMAM-NH2 dendrimers and was about 30% in the encapsulated form for Polyol-OH and PAMAM-OH. The complexation and encapsulation of ibuprofen with the polymers appear to facilitate rapid cellular entry of ibuprofen. The anti-inflammatory effect of the polymer-complexed drug was demonstrated by more rapid suppression of COX-2 mRNA levels than that achieved by the pure drug. This suggests that these dendritic polymers can act as efficient drug carriers, delivering high 'payloads' of drug even with complexation and encapsulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-330
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Biomaterials Science, Polymer Edition
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • A549 lung epithelial cells
  • Drug delivery
  • Hyperbranched polymers
  • PAMAM dendrimers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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