We have developed a general synthetic route to encapsulate small molecules in monodisperse zeolitic imid-azolate framework-8 (ZIF-8) nanospheres for drug delivery. Electron microscopy, powder X-ray diffraction, and elemental analysis show that the small-molecule-encapsulated ZIF-8 nanospheres are uniform 70 nm particles with single-crystalline structure. Several small molecules, including fluorescein and the anticancer drug camptothecin, were encapsulated inside of the ZIF-8 framework. Evaluation of fluorescein-encapsulated ZIF-8 nanospheres in the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line demonstrated cell internalization and minimal cytotoxicity. The 70 nm particle size facilitates cellular uptake, and the pH-responsive dissociation of the ZIF-8 framework likely results in endosomal release of the small-molecule cargo, thereby rendering the ZIF-8 scaffold an ideal drug delivery vehicle. To confirm this, we demonstrate that camptothecin encapsulated ZIF-8 particles show enhanced cell death, indicative of internalization and intracellular release of the drug. To demonstrate the versatility of this ZIF-8 system, iron oxide nanoparticles were also encapsulated into the ZIF-8 nanospheres, thereby endowing magnetic features to these nanospheres.
- cellular uptake
- drug delivery