Natural Nanofiber Shuttles for Transporting Hydrophobic Cargo into Aqueous Solutions.
AbstractHydrophobic biomolecules realize their functions in vivo in aqueous environments, often through a delicate balance of amphiphilicity and chaperones. Introducing exogenous hydrophobic biomolecules into in vivo aqueous systems is a challenge in drug delivery and regenerative medicine, where labile linkers, carriers, and fusions or chimeric molecules are often designed to facilitate such aqueous interfaces. Here, we utilize naturally derived silk nanofiber shuttles with the capacity to transport hydrophobic cargos directly into aqueous solutions. These nanofibers disperse in organic solvents and in aqueous solutions because of their inherent amphiphilicity, with enriched hydrophobicity and strategically interspersed negatively charged groups. Hydrophobic molecules loaded on these shuttles in organic solvent-water systems separated from the solvent after centrifugation. These concentrated hydrophobic molecule-loaded nanofibers could then be dispersed into aqueous solution directly without modification. These shuttle systems were effective for different hydrophobic molecules such as drugs, vitamins, and dyes. Improved biological stability and functions of hydrophobic cargos after loading on these nanofibers suggest potential applications in drug delivery, cosmetology, medical diagnosis, and related health fields, with a relatively facile process.