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In vitro determination of the efficacy of scorpion venoms as anti-cancer agents against colorectal cancer cells: a nano-liposomal delivery approach

Authors Al-Asmari AK, Ullah Z, Al Balowi A, Islam M

Received 29 September 2016

Accepted for publication 29 November 2016

Published 13 January 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 559—574


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Thomas Webster

Abdulrahman K Al-Asmari,1 Zabih Ullah,1 Ali Al Balowi,2 Mozaffarul Islam1

1Department of Research, Prince Sultan Military Medical City, Riyadh, 2Department of Pharmacy, King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

The use of liposomes in biological and medicinal sciences is a relatively new approach. The liposomal strategy greatly depends on the technological advancement in the formation of vesicles of various sizes and properties. In the current study, we encapsulated the venoms obtained from medically important scorpions such as Androctonus bicolor (AB), Androctonus crassicauda (AC), and Leiurus quinquestriatus (LQ). To begin with, our first and foremost aim was to prepare biocompatible and biodegradable nanovesicles. Additionally, we intended to enhance the anti-cancer potential of these encapsulated venoms. The liposomal venoms were prepared by rehydration and dehydration methods. Morphology, particle size, and size distribution of the liposomes were examined by scanning electron microscope (SEM), transmission electron microscope (TEM), and Zetasizer. We found that the prepared liposomes had a smooth surface and a spherical/ovoid shape and existed mainly as single unilamellar vesicles (SUVs). Furthermore, the liposomal formulation of all three venoms exhibited excellent stability and good encapsulation efficiency (EE). Additionally, the anti-cancer potential of the encapsulated venoms was also evaluated on a colorectal cancer cell line (HCT-8). The venom-loaded liposomes showed elevated anti-cancer properties such as low rate of cell survival, higher reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, and enhancement in the number of apoptotic cells. In addition to this, cell cycle analysis revealed G0/G1 enrichment upon venom treatment. The effect of treatment was more pronounced when venom–liposome was used as compared to free venom on the HCT-8 cell line. Furthermore, we did not observe any interference of liposomal lipids used in these preparations on the progression of cancer cells. Considering these findings, we can conclude that the encapsulated scorpion venoms exhibit better efficacy and act more vigorously as an anti-cancer agent on the colorectal cancer cell line when compared with their free counterpart.

Keywords: liposomes, scorpion venom, colon carcinoma cells, nanomedicine, anti-cancer

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