Acetals as pH-sensitive linkages for drug delivery

Elizabeth R. Gillies, Andrew P. Goodwin, Jean M.J. Fréchet*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

273 Scopus citations


pH-Sensitive linkages designed to undergo hydrolysis at mildly acidic pH can trigger the release of therapeutics selectively at targets such as tumor and inflammatory tissues and in the endosomes and lysosomes of cells. Acetals have the potential to be used as linkages for a range of alcohol functionalities, and, by altering their chemical structure, it is possible to tune their hydrolysis rate. The syntheses of four conjugates of model drug molecules with PEO using acetals of varying chemical structure are described herein. Primary and secondary alcohols, as well as syn-1,2-diols, were incorporated in the conjugates. The hydrolysis kinetics were investigated by HPLC, and the conjugates had half-lives ranging from less than 1 min to several days at pH 5.0, with slower hydrolysis at pH 7.4 in all cases. These acetal linkages are therefore promising for use in a variety of drug delivery applications ranging from polymer-drug conjugates to pH-sensitive micelles and nanoparticulate systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1254-1263
Number of pages10
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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