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Engineering Exosome-Like Nanovesicles Derived from Asparagus cochinchinensis Can Inhibit the Proliferation of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells with Better Safety Profile

Authors Zhang L, He F, Gao L, Cong M, Sun J, Xu J, Wang Y, Hu Y, Asghar S, Hu L, Qiao H

Received 23 November 2020

Accepted for publication 14 February 2021

Published 26 February 2021 Volume 2021:16 Pages 1575—1586


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Mian Wang

Lei Zhang,1,* Fengjun He,1,* Lina Gao,1 Minghui Cong,1 Juan Sun,2 Jialu Xu,2 Yutong Wang,2 Yang Hu,1 Sajid Asghar,3 Lihong Hu,1,2 Hongzhi Qiao1,2,4

1Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Functional Substances of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, 210023, People’s Republic of China; 2State Key Laboratory Cultivation Base for TCM Quality and Efficacy, School of Pharmacy, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, 210023, People’s Republic of China; 3Department of Pharmaceutics, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Government College University, Faisalabad, Pakistan; 4Jiangsu Engineering Research Center for Efficient Delivery System of TCM, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, 210023, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Hongzhi Qiao; Lihong Hu
School of Pharmacy, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, 138 Xianlin Avenue, Nanjing, 210023, People’s Republic of China
Email [email protected]; [email protected]

Background: Exosomes are a type of membrane vesicles secreted by living cells. Recent studies suggest exosome-like nanovesicles (ELNVs) from fruits and vegetables are involved in tissue renewal process and functional regulation against inflammatory diseases or cancers. However, there are few reports on ELNVs derived from medicinal plants.
Methods: ELNVs derived from Asparagus cochinchinensis (Lour.) Merr. (ACNVs) were isolated and characterized. Cytotoxicity, antiproliferative and apoptosis-inducing capacity of ACNVs against hepatoma carcinoma cell were assessed. The endocytosis mechanism of ACNVs was evaluated on Hep G2 cells in the presence of different endocytosis inhibitors. In vivo distribution of ACNVs was detected in healthy and tumor-bearing mice after scavenger receptors (SRs) blockade. PEG engineering of ACNVs was achieved through optimizing the pharmacokinetic profiles. In vivo antitumor activity and toxicity were evaluated in Hep G2 cell xenograft model.
Results: ACNVs were isolated and purified using a differential centrifugation method accompanied by sucrose gradient ultracentrifugation. The optimized ACNVs had an average size of about 119 nm and showed a typical cup-shaped nanostructure containing lipids, proteins, and RNAs. ACNVs were found to possess specific antitumor cell proliferation activity associated with an apoptosis-inducing pathway. ACNVs could be internalized into tumor cells mainly via phagocytosis, but they were quickly cleared once entering the blood. Blocking the SRs or PEGylation decoration prolonged the blood circulation time and increased the accumulation of ACNVs in tumor sites. In vivo antitumor results showed that PEGylated ACNVs could significantly inhibit tumor growth without side effects.
Conclusion: This study provides a promising functional nano platform derived from edible Asparagus cochinchinensis that can be used in antitumor therapy with negligible side effects.

Keywords: exosome, exosome-like nanovesicles, Asparagus cochinchinensis, engineering exosome, antitumor

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