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Acid-responsive nanoparticles as a novel oxidative stress-inducing anticancer therapeutic agent for colon cancer

Authors Zhao C, Cao W, Zheng H, Xiao Z, Hu J, Yang L, Chen M, Liang G, Zheng S, Zhao C

Received 6 October 2018

Accepted for publication 7 January 2019

Published 28 February 2019 Volume 2019:14 Pages 1597—1618


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Cristina Weinberg

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Lei Yang

Chengwei Zhao,1,* Weilan Cao,2,* Hailun Zheng,1,3,* Zhongxiang Xiao,1 Jie Hu,1,4 Lehe Yang,1 Min Chen,1 Guang Liang,1 Suqing Zheng,1 Chengguang Zhao1

1Chemical Biology Research Center, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang 325035, China; 2Department of Coloproctology, The Second Affiliated Hospital and Yuying Children’s Hospital, Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang 325035, China; 3Department of Pharmacy, The Second Affiliated Hospital and Yuying Children’s Hospital, Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang 325035, China; 4State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences, University of Macau, Taipa, Macau 999078, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Objective: Nanoparticles can efficiently carry and deliver anticancer agents to tumor sites. Mounting evidence indicates that many types of cancer cells, including colon cancer, have a weakly acidic microenvironment and increased levels of reactive oxygen species. The construction of nano drug delivery vehicles “activatable” in response to the tumor microenvironment is a new antitumor therapeutic strategy.
Methods: Cinnamaldehyde (CA) was designed to link directly with dextran to form a polymer through an acid cleavable acetal bond. Herein, a novel pH-sensitive drug delivery system was constructed with co-encapsulated 10-hydroxy camptothecin (HCPT). Dynamic light scattering (DLS) analysis, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis, and release kinetics analysis of HCPT-CA-loaded nanoparticles (PCH) were conducted to investigate the physical and chemical properties. The cellular uptake signatures of the nanoparticles were observed by confocal microscopy and flow cytometry. Cell viability, cell scratch assay, apoptosis assay, and colony formation assay were performed to examine the potent antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of the PCH. The antitumor mechanism of the treatment with PCH was evaluated by Western blotting, flow cytometry, and TEM analysis. The pharmacokinetics of PCH were examined in healthy Sprague Dawley rats within 6 hours after sublingual vein injection. We lastly examined the biodistribution and the in vivo anticancer activity of PCH using the xenograft mouse models of HCT116 cells.
Results: Both HCPT and CA were quickly released by PCH in an acidic microenvironment. PCH not only induced cancer cell death through the generation of intracellular reactive oxygen species in vitro but also facilitated the drug uptake, effectively prolonged drug circulation, and increased accumulation of drug in tumor sites. More attractively, PCH exhibited excellent therapeutic performance and better in vivo systemic safety.
Conclusion: Overall, PCH not only utilized the tumor microenvironment to control drug release, improve drug pharmacokinetics, and passively target the drug to the tumor tissue, but also exerted a synergistic anticancer effect. The acid-responsive PCH has enormous potential as a novel anticancer therapeutic strategy.

Keywords: cinnamaldehyde, hydroxy camptothecin, ROS, pH-responsive nanoparticles, colon cancer

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