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Folic acid-targeted disulfide-based cross-linking micelle for enhanced drug encapsulation stability and site-specific drug delivery against tumors

Authors Zhang Y, Zhou J, Yang C, Wang W, Chu L, Huang F, Liu Q, Deng L, Kong D, Liu J, Liu J

Received 1 December 2015

Accepted for publication 1 February 2016

Published 18 March 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 1119—1130

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S101649

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Farooq Shiekh

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Lei Yang


Yumin Zhang,1,* Junhui Zhou,2,* Cuihong Yang,1 Weiwei Wang,3 Liping Chu,1 Fan Huang,1 Qiang Liu,1 Liandong Deng,2 Deling Kong,3 Jianfeng Liu,1 Jinjian Liu1

1Tianjin Key Laboratory of Radiation Medicine and Molecular Nuclear Medicine, Institute of Radiation Medicine, Chinese Academy of Medical Science and Peking Union Medical College, 2Department of Polymer Science and Technology, School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University, 3Tianjin Key Laboratory of Biomaterial Research, Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Chinese Academy of Medical Science and Peking Union Medical College, Tianjin, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally in this work

Abstract: Although the shortcomings of small molecular antitumor drugs were efficiently improved by being entrapped into nanosized vehicles, premature drug release and insufficient tumor targeting demand innovative approaches that boost the stability and tumor responsiveness of drug-loaded nanocarriers. Here, we show the use of the core cross-linking method to generate a micelle with enhanced drug encapsulation ability and sensitivity of drug release in tumor. This kind of micelle could increase curcumin (Cur) delivery to HeLa cells in vitro and improve tumor accumulation in vivo. We designed and synthesized the core cross-linked micelle (CCM) with polyethylene glycol and folic acid-polyethylene glycol as the hydrophilic units, pyridyldisulfide as the cross-linkable and hydrophobic unit, and disulfide bond as the cross-linker. CCM showed spherical shape with a diameter of 91.2 nm by the characterization of dynamic light scattering and transmission electron microscope. Attributed to the core cross-linking, drug-loaded CCM displayed higher Nile Red or Cur-encapsulated stability and better sensitivity to glutathione than noncross-linked micelle (NCM). Cellular uptake and in vitro antitumor studies proved the enhanced endocytosis and better cytotoxicity of CCM-Cur against HeLa cells, which had a high level of glutathione. Meanwhile, the folate receptor-mediated drug delivery (FA-CCM-Cur) further enhanced the endocytosis and cytotoxicity. Ex vivo imaging studies showed that CCM-Cur and FA-CCM-Cur possessed higher tumor accumulation until 24 hours after injection. Concretely, FA-CCM-Cur exhibited the highest tumor accumulation with 1.7-fold of noncross-linked micelle Cur and 2.8-fold of free Cur. By combining cross-linking of the core with active tumor targeting of FA, we demonstrated a new and effective way to design nanocarriers for enhanced drug encapsulation, smart tumor responsiveness, and elevated tumor accumulation.

Keywords: core cross-linking, folic acid targeting, self-assembling, curcumin, drug delivery, micelles

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