Nitric oxide (NO) is a ubiquitous molecule in the body. Because of its multiple pathophysiologic roles, the potential for treating various diseases by the exogenous administration of NO has been under intensive investigation. However, the unstable, radical nature of NO poses a major challenge to the effective delivery of NO. Previously, silica nanoparticles synthesized by the traditional method have been developed into NO-carrying systems. In the present study, for the first time NO-carrying silica nanoparticles were prepared from a single silica precursor using a simple nanoprecipitation method. (3-Mercaptopropyl)-trimethoxysilane (MPTMS) was used as the sole silane source, which was subjected to acid-catalyzed S-nitrosation and condensation reactions in a one-pot organic phase. S-Nitroso silica nanoparticles (SNO-SiNPs) were then produced by injecting a smaller quantity of the organic phase into a larger amount of water without surfactants. Various preparation parameters were tested to obtain optimized conditions. Moreover, a phase diagram demonstrating the ouzo effect was constructed. The prepared SNO-SiNPs were spherical particles with a tunable size in the range of 100-400 nm. The nanoparticles in aqueous dispersions exhibited high colloid stability, possibly resulting from highly negatively charged surfaces. The result of solid-state 29Si NMR shows the predominance of T2 and T3 silicon structures, suggesting that nanoparticles were formed from polycondensed silica species. In conclusion, NO-loaded silica nanoparticles have been directly prepared from a single silane precursor using a surfactant-free, low-energy, one-step nanoprecipitation approach. The method precludes the need for the initial formation of bare particles and subsequent functionalization steps.
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