This study targets atherosclerosis, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the blood vessel wall, which underlies nearly 50% of all deaths in westernized countries and is the primary cause of mortality in patients with diabetes. This proposal utilizes rational molecular design approaches to a novel class of therapeutics - amphiphilic polymers that serve as athero-protective and anti-inflammatory therapeutics. The most innovative component is that molecularly designed polymers may have the potential to inhibit atherosclerosis by multiple scavenger receptor targeting and blockage during the early stages of atherogenesis. This binding behavior could be critical to blocking oxidized LDL uptake and more effectively abrogate the athero-inflammatory cascade, and retard the progression of atherosclerosis. The central hypothesis regarding the enhanced polymer structures is that combinations of strengthened hydrophobic features in conjunction with anionic charge and hydrophilic tails will yield polymers with optimal targeting to multiple scavenger receptors on both macrophages and endothelial cells, specifically SR-A, CD36 and LOX-1. To test this hypothesis, three specific aims are proposed.
Aim 1 is focused on the molecular modeling (docking and scoring) and design of novel polymer classes for enhanced binding to multiple scavenger receptors. This effort will yield new polymer structures with a more rigid and space-filling backbone that, in conjunction with charge and hydrophilicity, enhance binding affinities to scavenger receptors - particularly under physiologic conditions.
Aim 2 is focused on investigating the molecular mechanisms and polymer interactions with cultured macrophages and endothelial cells for inhibition of athero-inflammation in vitro.
Aim 3 is focused on the evaluation of in vivo polymer efficacy in terms of binding to atherosclerotic lesions and degree of regression of athero-inflammatory markers using an animal model of accelerated atherosclerosis. At minimum, new insights will be obtained regarding multiple scavenger receptor blocking as a strategy to counteract the progression of atherosclerosis. The potential impact of this research proposal is high;the overall outcome may be a new approach to treating coronary artery disease - using enhanced polymers as multifunctional inhibitors.

Public Health Relevance

This project is concerned with the design of polymeric biomaterials with biological activity and efficacy against atherosclerosis, the progressive blockage of lipid (fat) filled blood vessels leading to heart attacks and strokes, a leading cause of adult mortality in the U.S. Outcomes will be insights into the structure-function relations between polymers and their blockage of cholesterol uptake;effects on inhibition of inflammation;and the identification of improved biodegradable polymeric materials as therapeutics for treatment of vascular and inflammatory diseases.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Biomaterials and Biointerfaces Study Section (BMBI)
Program Officer
Fleg, Jerome
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Rutgers University
Biomedical Engineering
Schools of Engineering
New Brunswick
United States
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Moretti, Alysha; Li, Qi; Chmielowski, Rebecca et al. (2018) Nanotherapeutics Containing Lithocholic Acid-Based Amphiphilic Scorpion-Like Macromolecules Reduce In Vitro Inflammation in Macrophages: Implications for Atherosclerosis. Nanomaterials (Basel) 8:
Chmielowski, Rebecca A; Abdelhamid, Dalia S; Faig, Jonathan J et al. (2017) Athero-inflammatory nanotherapeutics: Ferulic acid-based poly(anhydride-ester) nanoparticles attenuate foam cell formation by regulating macrophage lipogenesis and reactive oxygen species generation. Acta Biomater 57:85-94
Lewis, Daniel R; Petersen, Latrisha K; York, Adam W et al. (2016) Nanotherapeutics for inhibition of atherogenesis and modulation of inflammation in atherosclerotic plaques. Cardiovasc Res 109:283-93
Chan, Jennifer W; Lewis, Daniel R; Petersen, Latrisha K et al. (2016) Amphiphilic macromolecule nanoassemblies suppress smooth muscle cell proliferation and platelet adhesion. Biomaterials 84:219-229
Zhang, Yingyue; Li, Qi; Welsh, William J et al. (2016) Micellar and structural stability of nanoscale amphiphilic polymers: Implications for anti-atherosclerotic bioactivity. Biomaterials 84:230-240
Chan, Jennifer W; Huang, Amy; Uhrich, Kathryn E (2016) Self-Assembled Amphiphilic Macromolecule Coatings: Comparison of Grafting-From and Grafting-To Approaches for Bioactive Delivery. Langmuir 32:5038-47
Chan, Jennifer W; Zhang, Yingyue; Uhrich, Kathryn E (2015) Amphiphilic Macromolecule Self-Assembled Monolayers Suppress Smooth Muscle Cell Proliferation. Bioconjug Chem 26:1359-69
Zhang, Yingyue; Chan, Jennifer W; Moretti, Alysha et al. (2015) Designing polymers with sugar-based advantages for bioactive delivery applications. J Control Release 219:355-368
Abdelhamid, Dalia S; Zhang, Yingyue; Lewis, Daniel R et al. (2015) Tartaric acid-based amphiphilic macromolecules with ether linkages exhibit enhanced repression of oxidized low density lipoprotein uptake. Biomaterials 53:32-9
Faig, Allison; Arthur, Timothy D; Fitzgerald, Patrick O et al. (2015) Biscationic Tartaric Acid-Based Amphiphiles: Charge Location Impacts Antimicrobial Activity. Langmuir 31:11875-85

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