A Comparative Study on Albumin-Binding Molecules for Targeted Tumor Delivery through Covalent and Noncovalent Approach

Various types of albumin-binding molecules have been conjugated to anticancer drugs, and these modified prodrugs could be effective in cancer treatments compared to free anticancer drugs. However, the tumor targeting of albumin-binding prodrugs has not been clearly investigated. Herein, we examined the in vitro and in vivo tumor-targeting efficiency of three different albumin-binding molecules including albumin-binding peptide (DICLPRWGCLW: PEP), fatty acid (palmitic acid: PA), and maleimide (MI), respectively. In order to characterize the different targeting efficiency of albumin-binding molecules, PEP, PA, or MI was chemically labeled with near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) dye, Cy5.5, in resulting PEP-Cy5.5, PA-Cy5.5, and MI-Cy5.5. These NIRF dye-labeled albumin-binding molecules were physically or chemically bound to albumin via gentle incubation in aqueous conditions in vitro. Notably, PA-Cy5.5 with reversible and multivalent binding affinities formed stable albumin complexes, compared to PEP-Cy5.5 and MI-Cy5.5, confirmed via surface plasmon resonance measurement, gel electrophoresis assay, and albumin-bound column-binding test. In tumor-bearing mice model, the different albumin-binding affinities of PA-Cy5.5, PEP-Cy5.5, and MI-Cy5.5 greatly contributed to their tumor-targeting ability. Even though the binding affinity of PEP-Cy5.5 and MI-Cy5.5 to albumin is higher than that of PA-Cy5.5 in vitro, intravenous PA-Cy5.5 showed a higher tumor-targeting efficiency in tumor-bearing mice compared to that of PEP-Cy5.5 and MI-Cy5.5. The reversible and multivalent affinities of albumin-binding molecules to native serum albumin greatly increased the pharmacokinetics and tumor-targeting efficiency in vivo.