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An efficient PEGylated liposomal nanocarrier containing cell-penetrating peptide and pH-sensitive hydrazone bond for enhancing tumor-targeted drug delivery

Authors Ding Y, Sun D, Wang GL, Yang HG, Xu HF, Chen JH, Xie Y, Wang ZQ

Received 16 July 2015

Accepted for publication 6 September 2015

Published 1 October 2015 Volume 2015:10(1) Pages 6199—6214

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S92519

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Yu Mi

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Lei Yang

Yuan Ding,1,* Dan Sun,1,* Gui-Ling Wang,1 Hong-Ge Yang,1 Hai-Feng Xu,1 Jian-Hua Chen,2 Ying Xie,1,3 Zhi-Qiang Wang4

1Beijing Key Laboratory of Molecular Pharmaceutics and New Drug Delivery Systems, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, 2School of Medicine, Jianghan University, Wuhan, 3State Key Laboratory of Natural and Biomimetic Drugs, Peking University, Beijing, People’s Republic of China; 4Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Kent State University Geauga, Burton, OH, USA

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Abstract: Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) as small molecular transporters with abilities of cell penetrating, internalization, and endosomal escape have potential prospect in drug delivery systems. However, a bottleneck hampering their application is the poor specificity for cells. By utilizing the function of hydration shell of polyethylene glycol (PEG) and acid sensitivity of hydrazone bond, we constructed a kind of CPP-modified pH-sensitive PEGylated liposomes (CPPL) to improve the selectivity of these peptides for tumor targeting. In CPPL, CPP was directly attached to liposome surfaces via coupling with stearate (STR) to avoid the hindrance of PEG as a linker on the penetrating efficiency of CPP. A PEG derivative by conjugating PEG with STR via acid-degradable hydrazone bond (PEG2000-Hz-STR, PHS) was synthesized. High-performance liquid chromatography and flow cytometry demonstrated that PHS was stable at normal neutral conditions and PEG could be completely cleaved from liposome surface to expose CPP under acidic environments in tumor. An optimal CPP density on liposomes was screened to guaranty a maximum targeting efficiency on tumor cells as well as not being captured by normal cells that consequently lead to a long circulation in blood. In vitro and in vivo studies indicated, in 4 mol% CPP of lipid modified system, that CPP exerted higher efficiency on internalizing the liposomes into targeted subcellular compartments while remaining inactive and free from opsonins at a maximum extent in systemic circulation. The 4% CPPL as a drug delivery system will have great potential in the clinical application of anticancer drugs in future.

Keywords: long circulation, pharmacokinetics, lysosome escape, nanocarrier, pH-sensitive liposomes

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