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Folic acid-tethered Pep-1 peptide-conjugated liposomal nanocarrier for enhanced intracellular drug delivery to cancer cells: conformational characterization and in vitro cellular uptake evaluation

Authors Kang M, Park S, Kang M, Park M, Choi YW

Received 23 October 2012

Accepted for publication 16 December 2012

Published 15 March 2013 Volume 2013:8(1) Pages 1155—1165


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Myung Joo Kang, Sang Han Park, Mean Hyung Kang, Min Jung Park, Young Wook Choi

College of Pharmacy, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea

Background: A novel dual ligand–modified liposome, folic acid-tethered Pep-1 peptide-conjugated liposomal nanocarrier (FP-Lipo), was designed to overcome the nonselectivity of conventional penetrating peptide-tagged nanoparticulates and to provide the advantage of selective targeting of the folic acid receptor, which is frequently overexpressed on epithelial cancer cells.
Methods: FP-Lipo was prepared by a sequential process of formation of a maleimide-derivatized small unilamellar vesicle, postinsertion of distearoyl phosphatidyl ethanolamine-polyethylene glycol 2000–folate to the vesicle, and Pep-1 peptide conjugation via thiol-maleimide linkage. Conformational and physical characteristics of the FP-Lipo nanocarriers were investigated for the extent of Pep-1 peptide and folic acid on the surface, vesicle size, and zeta potential. In vitro cellular uptake behaviors of the novel carrier containing a fluorescein dextran isothiocyanate probe were examined by spectrophotometry or by confocal laser scanning microscopy.
Results: A novel nanocarrier bearing approximately 750 folate ligands and 100 penetrating peptides per vesicle was successfully prepared. The physical properties were as follows: 140 nm in size; 5 mV in zeta potential; less than 0.3 in polydispersity index. An in vitro cellular uptake study revealed that the FP-Lipo nanocarrier system exhibited more than twofold enhanced translocation into the folic acid receptor–positive HeLa cells compared with the single Pep-1 peptide–modified liposome. Meanwhile, its cellular association and internalization into the folic acid receptor–negative normal HaCaT cells was comparable with that of Pep-1 peptide–modified liposome.
Conclusion: An advanced dual ligand-modified liposome is potentially useful for the treatment of folic acid receptor–positive tumors with high translocation capability of the penetrating peptide–modified liposome.

Keywords: liposome, folic acid, Pep-1 peptide, cell-penetrating peptide, intracellular delivery, targeted delivery

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