Redox-Responsive Hyaluronic Acid-Based Nanogels for the Topical Delivery of the Visual Chromophore to Retinal Photoreceptors

Amine M. Laradji, Alexander V. Kolesnikov, Bedia B. Karakoçak, Vladimir J. Kefalov, Nathan Ravi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Delivering therapeutics to the posterior segment of the eye is challenging due to various anatomical and physical barriers. While significant improvements have been realized by introducing direct injections to diseased sites, these approaches come with potential side effects that can range from simple inflammation to severe retinal damage. The topical instillation of drugs remains a safer and preferred alternative for patients' compliance. Here, we report the synthesis of penetratin-complexed, redox-responsive hyaluronic acid-based nanogels for the triggered release and delivery of therapeutics to the posterior part of the eye via topical application. The synthesized nanogels were shown to release their load only when exposed to a reducing environment, similar to the cytoplasm. As a model drug, visual chromophore analog, 9-cis-retinal, was loaded into nanogels and efficiently delivered to the mouse retina's photoreceptors when applied topically. Electroretinogram measurements showed a partial recovery of photoreceptor function in all treated eyes versus untreated controls. To the best of our knowledge, this report constitutes the first attempt to use a topically applied triggered-release drug delivery system to target the pigmented layer of the retina, in addition to the first attempt to deliver the visual chromophore topically.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6172-6184
Number of pages13
JournalACS Omega
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 9 2021


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