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Antitumor activity of celastrol nanoparticles in a xenograft retinoblastoma tumor model

Authors Li Z, Wu, Li J, Yao L, Sun, Shi, Zhang, Lin J, Liang D, Li Y

Received 14 January 2012

Accepted for publication 20 February 2012

Published 9 May 2012 Volume 2012:7 Pages 2389—2398


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Zhanrong Li,1,* Xianghua Wu,1,* Jingguo Li,2 Lin Yao,1 Limei Sun,1 Yingying Shi,1 Wenxin Zhang,1 Jianxian Lin,1 Dan Liang,1 Yongping Li1

1State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, 2School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Background: Celastrol, a Chinese herbal medicine, has shown antitumor activity against various tumor cell lines. However, the effect of celastrol on retinoblastoma has not yet been analyzed. Additionally, the poor water solubility of celastrol restricts further therapeutic applications. The goal of this study was to evaluate the effect of celastrol nanoparticles (CNPs) on retinoblastoma and to investigate the potential mechanisms involved.
Methods: Celastrol-loaded poly(ethylene glycol)-block-poly(ε-caprolactone) nanopolymeric micelles were developed to improve the hydrophilicity of celastrol. The 2-(2-methoxy-4-nitrophenyl)-3-(4-nitrophenyl)-5-(2,4-disulf-ophenyl)-2H tetrazolium monosodium salt (WST-8) assay was used to determine the inhibitory effect of CNPs on SO-Rb 50 cell proliferation in vitro. Immunofluorescence was used to evaluate the apoptotic effect of CNPs on nuclear morphology, and flow cytometry was used to quantify cellular apoptosis. The expression of Bcl-2, Bax, NF-κB p65, and phospo-NF-κB p65 proteins was assessed by Western blotting. A human retinoblastoma xenograft model was used to evaluate the inhibitory effects of CNPs on retinoblastoma in NOD-SCID mice. Hematoxylin and eosin staining was used to assess the apoptotic effects of CNPs on retinoblastoma.
Results: CNPs inhibit the proliferation of SO-Rb 50 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner with an IC50 of 17.733 µg/mL (celastrol-loading content: 7.36%) after exposure to CNPs for 48 hours. CNPs induce apoptosis in SO-Rb 50 cells in a dose-dependent manner. The expression of Bcl-2, NF-κB p65, and phospo-NF-κB p65 proteins decreased after exposure to CNPs 54.4 µg/mL for 48 hours. Additionally, the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio increased, whereas the expression of Bax itself was not significantly altered. CNPs inhibit the growth of retinoblastoma and induce apoptosis in retinoblastoma cells in mice.
Conclusion: CNPs inhibit the growth of retinoblastoma in mouse xenograft model by inducing apoptosis in SO-Rb 50 cells, which may be related to the increased Bax/Bcl-2 ratio and the inhibition of NF-κB. CNPs may represent a potential alternative treatment for retinoblastoma.

Keywords: apoptosis, SO-Rb 50 cells, poly(ethylene glycol)-block-poly(ε-caprolactone), nanopolymeric micelles, celastrol nanoparticles

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