Short biologic half-lives limit the therapeutic utility of many small molecules. One approach to extending the half-life of pharmacologically active small molecules is conjugation to less degradable nanoparticles; here we report the synthesis and activity of six targeted polymeric (PEG-b-PLA) nanoparticles for use as adenosine receptor agonists. Using click chemistry, PLA-b-PEG400-N3 and PLA-b-PEG2000 block copolymers were bound to adenosine at the 3′,4′-OH, 5′-OH, and 6-NH2 positions with an acetylene group. Activity of the conjugates as adenosine receptor ligands was tested by their capacity to stimulate cAMP increases in RAW264.7 murine macrophage cells. Only adenosine-conjugated nanoparticles (A-3′,4′-OH-TPN2), in which PEG2000 was bound to adenosine on the 3′,4′ hydroxyl groups, stimulated cAMP increases and these increases were blocked by selective antagonists of both adenosine A2A and A2B receptors, consistent with ligation of these receptors. Adenosine nanoparticles were tested in vivo in a rat model of post-traumatic osteoarthritis; intra-articular injection of adenosine nanoparticles prevented the development of osteoarthritis in this model. These studies suggest that attachment of adenosine to biodegradable nanoparticles provides a novel approach to achieving prolonged therapeutic effects.
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