The adsorption/release behaviour of oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) on double functional core-shell polymethylmethacrylate nanospheres, with a narrow size distribution, is described. The outer shell consists of alkyl or glycolic chains containing permanently-charged quaternary ammonium groups. Ion pair formation between negatively-charged ODN phosphate groups and positively-charged groups, present on the nanosphere surface, is the main mechanism of interaction. The amount of adsorbed ODN depends on both the ODN concentration and the nanosphere surface charge density. An adsorption-induced swelling mechanism is proposed in which a modification of the charged diffuse layer around the nanospheres increases the ODN binding site accessibility with increasing ODN concentration. Adsorption on the nanosphere surface prevents serum degradation of the ODNs. ODN release is negligible in the presence of culture medium but occurs gradually in the presence of serum. No significant cytotoxicity of the free nanoparticles was found in PBMC and CEM cells after 24 h at ODN concentrations required for antisense activity
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