• cucurbiturils;
  • enzyme mimics;
  • mesoporous materials;
  • molecular devices;
  • supramolecular chemistry


The controlled release of drugs by biostimuli is highly desirable under physiological conditions for their potential use in advanced applications. The enzyme-inspired controlled release of cucurbituril nanovalves by using magnetic mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) in near-neutral aqueous solutions is reported for the first time. The encirclement of cucurbit[7]uril (CB[7]) onto the protonated 1,4-butanediamine stalks tethered to the external surfaces of superparamagnetic Fe3O4-embedded mesoporous silica particles leads to tight blocking of the nanopores. The supramolecular nanovalves are activated by the enzymatic decarboxylation products of lysine, cadaverine (in the protonated form), which has a high affinity for CB[7], so that the encapsulated guest molecules, calcein, in the nanopores are released into the bulk solution. The release of calcein can be controlled in small portions on command by alternating changes in enzymatic decarboxylation products and CB[7]. The amino acid derived polyamines have long been associated with cell growth and cancers. The guest molecules released from the delivery system of magnetic MSNs can act not only on sensing probes for levels of decarboxylases and polyamines, but also on efficacious drugs to specific tissues and cells for regulation of polyamine synthesis.