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Programmed Nanococktail Based on pH-Responsive Function Switch for Self-Synergistic Tumor-Targeting Therapy

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journal contribution
posted on 17.10.2017 by Yang Li, Liang Song, Jinyan Lin, Jinyuan Ma, Zhou Pan, Yinying Zhang, Guanghao Su, Shefang Ye, Fang-hong Luo, Xuan Zhu, Zhenqing Hou
Tumor-targeting combination chemotherapy is an important way to improve the therapeutic index and reduce the side effects as compared to traditional cancer treatments. However, one of the major challenges in surface functionalization of nanoparticle (NP) is accomplishing multiple purposes through one single ligand. Upon such consideration, methotrexate (MTX), an anticancer drug with a targeting moiety inspired by the similar structure of folate, could be used to covalently link with lipid-polymer conjugate (DSPE-PEG) via a pH-sensitive dynamic covalent imine (CHN) bond to synthesize the acid-induced function “targeting-anticancer” switching DSPE-PEG-CHN-MTX. We hypothesize that using this kind of MTX prodrug to functionalize NP’s surface would be conductive to combine the early phase active targeting function and the late-phase anticancer function in one nanosystem. Herein, a nanococktail is programmed for codelivery of epirubicin (EPI) and MTX by co-self-assembly of acid-dissociated EPI-phospholipid (PC) complex and acid-cleavable DSPE-PEG-CHN-MTX conjugate. The obtained nanococktail (MTX-PEG-EPI-PC NPs) could not only actively target folate receptors-overexpressing tumor cells but also respond to acidic endo/lysosomes for triggering the on-demand release of pharmaceutically active EPI/MTX. The intracellular drug distribution also demonstrated that the system could codeliver two drugs to individual target sites of action, inducing the significant synergistic anticancer efficiency based on different anticancer mechanisms. More importantly, the in vivo tumor accumulation and anticancer efficacy of MTX-PEG-EPI-PC NPs (via cleavable imine bond) were significantly enhanced as compared to the individual free drug, both free drugs, PEG-EPI-PC NPs, and MTX-PEG-EPI-PC NPs (via the uncleavable amide bond). This self-synergistic tumor-targeting therapy might represent a promising strategy for cancer treatment.