Aggregation properties of a HPMA-camptothecin copolymer in isotonic solutions

Giuseppe Chirico, Maddalena Collini, Francesca Olivini, Moreno Zamai, Enrico Frigerio, Valeria R. Caiolfa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Copolymers of camptothecin (CPT) and [N-(2-hydroxypropyl) methacrylamide] (HPMA) are novel anticancer drugs that show improved pharmacological profile in animal models as compared to the free drug CPT. We investigate here the aggregation properties of a HPMA-glycyl-6-aminohexanoyl-glycyl-CPT copolymer (∼20,000 Da). The molecular size of HPMA-copolymer CPT is followed over 5 orders of magnitudes of concentration in isotonic buffer by measuring either the time resolved fluorescence anisotropy (FA) of CPT or the autocorrelation function of the light scattered by the copolymer. A detailed analysis of these data suggests the presence of elongated structures with axial ratio ∼3 in the range 0.1-0.5 μg/ml and aggregates with association number higher than 2 in more concentrated solutions (up to 10 mg/ml). The binding affinity of HPMA-copolymer CPT for serum albumin is inversely dependent on the degree of aggregation of the copolymer. We also show that the copolymer concentration in plasma from mice treated with an active, non-toxic, dose of HPMA-copolymer CPT, decreases from 3 to 0.01 mg/ml in 72 h. In the same range of concentrations in vitro, we do not detect hydrophobic aggregates of polymers with high (>3) association number. Our study indicates that the circulating HPMA-copolymer CPT in mice should not undergo extensive aggregation and should interact with serum albumin more weakly than free CPT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-295
Number of pages15
JournalBiophysical Chemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2004


  • Aggregation
  • Camptothecin
  • Drug delivery
  • Fluorescence anisotropy
  • HPMA
  • Photon correlation spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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