Developing nanovehicles for delivering antibiotics is a promising approach to overcome the issue of antibiotic resistance. This study aims to utilize a polyion complex (PICs) system for developing novel nanovehicles for polymyxin-type antibiotics, which are known as last resort drugs. The formation of antibiotic-based PIC nanostructures is investigated using colistimethate sodium (CMS), an anionic cyclic short peptide, and a series of block catiomers bearing different amounts of guanidinium moieties on their side chains. In addition, only the modified catiomer, and not the unmodified catiomer, self-assembles with CMS, implying the importance of the guanidine moieties for enhancing the interaction between the catiomer and CMS via the formation of multivalent hydrogen bonding. Moreover, micellar and vesicular PIC nanostructures are selectively formed depending on the ratio of the guanidine residues. Size-exclusion chromatography reveals that the encapsulation efficiency of CMS is dependent on the guanidinium modification ratio. The antimicrobial activity of the PIC nanostructures is also confirmed, indicating that the complexation of CMS in the PICs and further release from the PICs successfully occurs.
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