• polymers;
  • theranostic nanoparticles;
  • drug delivery;
  • doxorubicin;
  • breast cancer

Eight fluorinated nanoparticles (NPs) are synthesized, loaded with doxorubicin (DOX), and evaluated as theranostic delivery platforms to breast cancer cells. The multifunctional NPs are formed by self-assembly of either linear or star-shaped amphiphilic block copolymers, with fluorinated segments incorporated in the hydrophilic corona of the carrier. The sizes of the NPs confirm that small circular NPs are formed. The release kinetics data of the particles reveals clear hydrophobic core dependence, with longer sustained release from particles with larger hydrophobic cores, suggesting that the DOX release from these carriers can be tailored. Viability assays and flow cytometry evaluation of the ratios of apoptosis/necrosis indicate that the materials are non-toxic to breast cancer cells before DOX loading; however, they are very efficient, similar to free DOX, at killing cancer cells after drug encapsulation. Both flow cytometry and confocal microscopy confirm the cellular uptake of NPs and DOX-NPs into breast cancer cells, and in vitro 19F-MRI measurement shows that the fluorinated NPs have strong imaging signals, qualifying them as a potential in vivo contrast agent for 19F-MRI.