Theranostic Copolymers Neutralize Reactive Oxygen Species and Lipid Peroxidation Products for the Combined Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) results in the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and lipid peroxidation product (LPOx), including acrolein and 4-hydroxynonenal (4HNE). The presence of these biochemical derangements results in neurodegeneration during the secondary phase of the injury. The ability to rapidly neutralize multiple species could significantly improve outcomes for TBI patients. However, the difficulty in creating therapies that target multiple biochemical derangements simultaneously has greatly limited therapeutic efficacy. Therefore, our goal was to design a material that could rapidly bind and neutralize both ROS and LPOx following TBI. To do this, a series of thiol-functionalized biocompatible copolymers based on lipoic acid methacrylate and polyethylene glycol monomethyl ether methacrylate (FW ∼950 Da) (O950) were prepared. A polymerizable gadolinium-DOTA methacrylate monomer (Gd-MA) was also synthesized starting from cyclen to facilitate direct magnetic resonance imaging and in vivo tracking of accumulation. These neuroprotective copolymers (NPCs) were shown to rapidly and effectively neutralize both ROS and LPOx. Horseradish peroxidase absorbance assays showed that the NPCs efficiently neutralized H2O2, while R-phycoerythrin protection assays demonstrated their ability to protect the fluorescent protein from oxidative damage. 1H NMR studies indicated that the thiol-functional NPCs rapidly form covalent bonds with acrolein, efficiently removing it from solution. In vitro cell studies with SH-SY5Y-differentiated neurons showed that NPCs provide unique protection against toxic concentrations of both H2O2and acrolein. NPCs rapidly accumulate and are retained in the injured brain in controlled cortical impact mice and reduce post-traumatic oxidative stress. Therefore, these materials show promise for improved target engagement of multiple biochemical derangements in hopes of improving TBI therapeutic outcomes.



Second Department

Materials Science and Engineering


F.K. acknowledges support from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health (R01NS109488). We would also like to acknowledge support from the Missouri S&T Center for Biomedical Research.

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1526-4602; 1525-7797

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2022 American Chemical Society, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

11 Apr 2022

PubMed ID