Two bolaamphiphilic compounds with identical acetylcholine (ACh) head groups, but with different lengths of an alkyl chain pendant adjacent to the head group, as well as differences between their hydrophobic skeleton, were investigated for their ability to self-assemble into vesicles that release their encapsulated content upon hydrolysis of their head groups by acetyl-cholinesterase (AChE). One of these bolaamphiphiles, synthesized from vernolic acid, has an alkyl chain pendant of five methylene groups, while the other, synthesized from oleic acid, has an alkyl chain pendant of eight methylene groups. Both bolaamphiphiles formed stable spherical vesicles with a diameter of about 130nm. The ACh head groups of both bolaamphiphiles were hydrolyzed by AChE, but the hydrolysis rate was significantly faster for the bolaamphiphile with the shorter aliphatic chain pendant. Likewise, upon exposure to AChE, vesicles made from the bolaamphiphile with the shorter alkyl chain pendant released their encapsulated content faster than vesicles made from the bolaamphiphile with the longer alkyl chain pendant. Our results suggest that the steric environment around the ACh head group of bolaamphiphiles is a major factor affecting the hydrolysis rate of the head groups by AChE. Attaching an alkyl chain to the bolaamphiphile near the ACh head group allows self-assembled vesicles to form with a controlled release rate of the encapsulated materials, whereas shorter alkyl chains enable a faster head group hydrolysis, and consequently faster release, than longer alkyl chains. This principle may be implemented in the design of bolaamphiphiles for the formation of vesicles for drug delivery with desired controlled release rates.
- Controlled release
- Drug delivery