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Engineering Thermo-pH Dual Responsive Hydrogel for Enhanced Tumor Accumulation, Penetration, and Chemo-Protein Combination Therapy

Authors Pang X, Liang S, Wang T, Yu S, Yang R, Hou T, Liu Y, He C, Zhang N

Received 19 March 2020

Accepted for publication 1 June 2020

Published 1 July 2020 Volume 2020:15 Pages 4739—4752


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Lei Yang

Xiuping Pang,1,* Shuang Liang,1,* Tianqi Wang,1 Shuangjiang Yu,2 Rui Yang,1 Teng Hou,1 Yongjun Liu,1 Chaoliang He,2 Na Zhang1

1Department of Pharmaceutics, Key Laboratory of Chemical Biology (Ministry of Education), School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong Province 250012, People’s Republic of China; 2Key Laboratory of Polymer Ecomaterials, Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changchun 130022, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Chaoliang He; Na Zhang Email;

Purpose: Combined chemotherapeutic drug and protein drug has been a widely employed strategy for tumor treatment. To realize both tumor accumulation and deep tumor penetration for drugs with different pharmacokinetics, we propose a structure-transformable, thermo-pH dual responsive co-delivery system to co-load granzyme B/docetaxel (GrB/DTX).
Methods: Thermo-sensitive hydrogels based on diblock copolymers (mPEG-b-PELG) were synthesized through ring opening polymerization. GrB/DTX mini micelles (GDM) was developed by co-loading these two drugs in pH-sensitive mini micelles, and the GDM-incorporated thermo-sensitive hydrogel (GDMH) was constructed. The thermo-induced gelation behavior of diblock copolymers and the physiochemical properties of GDMH were characterized. GDMH degradation and deep tumor penetration of released mini micelles were confirmed. The pH-sensitive disassembly and lysosomal escape abilities of released mini micelles were evaluated. In vitro cytotoxicity was studied using MTT assays and the in vivo antitumor efficacy study was evaluated in B16-bearing C57BL/6 mice.
Results: GDMH was gelatinized at body temperature and can be degraded by proteinase to release mini micelles. The mini micelles incorporated in GDMH can achieve deep tumor penetration and escape from lysosomes to release GrB and DTX. MTT results showed that maximum synergistic antitumor efficacy of GrB and DTX was observed at mass ratio of 1:100. Our in vivo antitumor efficacy study showed that GDMH inhibited tumor growth in the subcutaneous tumor model and in the post-surgical recurrence model.
Conclusion: The smart-designed transformable GDMH can facilitate tumor accumulation, deep tumor penetration, and rapid drug release to achieve synergistic chemo-protein therapy.

Keywords: structure-transformable, thermo-pH dual responsive, hydrogel, chemo-protein combination therapy

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