The aim of this work was to evaluate the use of thermosensitive hydrogels for intravesical cisplatin delivery into the bladder. Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) was grafted onto hyaluronic acid (HA) to synthesize an HPN copolymer, which was further grafted with gelatin to form an HPNG copolymer. A 3% concentration of HPN and HPNG was sufficient to exert a thermosensitive response, whereas a concentration of 8% was needed for PNIPAM to form the hydrogel. The physicochemical and drug delivery properties were examined by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), the lower critical solution temperature (LCST), hydration ratio, and in vitro cisplatin release. The incorporation of HA and gelatin produced a different microstructure compared to the parent PNIPAM hydrogel. Gelatin conjugation increased the fibrous structure in the matrix. The LCSTs of PNIPAM, HPN, and HPNG were 32.3, 32.0, and 30.7°C, respectively. The copolymers showed an eightfold increase in the hydration capacity compared to PNIPAM, with no significant difference in values between HPN and HPNG. The release of cisplatin from an aqueous solution (control) was nearly complete after 8 h, compared to 85, 80, and 52% release from PNIPAM, HPN, and HPNG, respectively. In vivo evaluation of cisplatin levels in bladder tissues was performed following intravesical instillation in rats. When the dwell time was extended to 6 h, PNIPAM showed a sevenfold enhancement in the drug concentration in the bladder wall. HPNG also showed a twofold increase in the drug concentration. The administration of cisplatin by the HPN carrier did not change the drug accumulation compared to the control. Confocal laser scanning microscopic results confirmed the trend of drug absorption from various systems. A histological examination showed no adverse change in the urothelium with HPN or HPNG application. PNIPAM caused partial desquamation of umbrella cells. The thermosensitive hydrogels prepared in this study may be promising carriers for targeted drug delivery to the bladder.
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