Temperature and magnetism bi-responsive molecularly imprinted polymers: Preparation, adsorption mechanism and properties as drug delivery system for sustained release of 5-fluorouracil
Temperature and magnetism bi-responsive molecularly imprinted polymers (TMMIPs) based on Fe3O4-encapsulating carbon nanospheres were prepared by free radical polymerization, and applied to selective adsorption and controlled release of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) from an aqueous solution. Characterization results show that the as-synthesized TMMIPs have an average diameter of about 150 nm with a typical core–shell structure, and the thickness of the coating layer is approximately 50 nm. TMMIPs also displayed obvious magnetic properties and thermo-sensitivity. The adsorption results show that the prepared TMMIPs exhibit good adsorption capacity (up to 96.53 mg/g at 25 °C) and recognition towards 5-FU. The studies on 5-FU loading and release in vitro suggest that the release rate increases with increasing temperature. Meanwhile, adsorption mechanisms were explored by using a computational analysis to simulate the imprinted site towards 5-FU. The interaction energy between the imprinted site and 5-FU is − 112.24 kJ/mol, originating from a hydrogen bond, Van der Waals forces and a hydrophobic interaction between functional groups located on 5-FU and a NIPAM monomer. The electrostatic potential charges and population analysis results suggest that the imprinted site of 5-FU can be introduced on the surface of TMMIPs, confirming their selective adsorption behavior for 5-FU.