This work describes the preparation of thermosensitive chitosan-graft-poly(N-vinylcaprolactam) nanoparticles by ionic gelation and their potential use as a controlled drug delivery system, using doxorubicin as a model drug. A systematic study of the effect of the main processing parameters on both the size and thermoresponsive behavior of nanoparticles was investigated. The size of the particles is strongly dependent on the length of the poly(N-vinylcaprolactam) grafted chains and the concentration of the copolymer and crosslinking agent solutions. The molecular structure of the copolymer plays an essential role in the phase transition temperature of the particles, which decreases with the length of PVCL grafted chain. The system displayed proper drug-association parameters, and the drug-loaded nanoparticles exhibited dose-dependent cytotoxicity. A significant increase in the doxorubicin delivery rate was observed above the phase transition temperature (40 °C). These features indicate that these nanoparticles are suitable for the development of a new thermally controlled anti-cancer drug delivery system.
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