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Novel pH-Sensitive Urushiol-Loaded Polymeric Micelles for Enhanced Anticancer Activity

Authors Zhou H, Qi Z, Xue X, Wang C

Received 20 February 2020

Accepted for publication 7 May 2020

Published 29 May 2020 Volume 2020:15 Pages 3851—3868


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Linlin Sun

Hao Zhou,* Zhiwen Qi, Xingying Xue, Chengzhang Wang*

Institute of Chemical Industry of Forest Products, CAF; National Engineering Laboratory for Biomass Chemical Utilization; Key Laboratory of Chemical Engineering of Forest Products, National Forestry and Grassland Administration; Key Laboratory of Biomass Energy and Material, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province 210042, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work.

Correspondence: Hao Zhou; Chengzhang Wang
Institute of Chemical Industry of Forest Products, CAF, No. 16 Suojin Wucun, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province 210042, People’s Republic of China
Tel +86-025-85482421
; +86-025-85482471

Purpose: The aim of this study was to develop a means of improving the bioavailability and anticancer activity of urushiol by developing an urushiol-loaded novel tumor-targeted micelle delivery system based on amphiphilic block copolymer poly(ethylene glycol)-b-poly-(β-amino ester) (mPEG-PBAE).
Materials and Methods: We synthesized four different mPEG-PBAE copolymers using mPEG-NH2 with different molecular weights or hydrophobicity levels. Of these, we selected the mPEG5000-PBAE-C12 polymer and used it to develop an optimized means of preparing urushiol-loaded micelles. Response surface methodology was used to optimize this formulation process. The micellar properties, including particle size, pH sensitivity, drug release dynamics, and critical micelle concentrations, were characterized. We further used the MCF-7 human breast cancer cell line to explore the cytotoxicity of these micelles in vitro and assessed their pharmacokinetics, tissue distribution, and antitumor activity in vivo.
Results: The resulting micelles had a mean particle size of 160.1 nm, a DL value of 23.45%, and an EE value of 80.68%. These micelles were found to release their contents in a pH-sensitive manner in vitro, with drug release being significantly accelerated at pH 5.0 (98.74% in 72 h) without any associated burst release. We found that urushiol-loaded micelles were significantly better at inducing MCF-7 cell cytotoxicity compared with free urushiol, with an IC50 of 1.21 mg/L. When these micelles were administered to tumor model animals in vivo, pharmacokinetic analysis revealed that the total AUC and MRT of these micelles were 2.28- and 2.53-fold higher than that of free urushiol, respectively. Tissue distribution analyses further revealed these micelles to mediate significantly enhanced tumor urushiol accumulation.
Conclusion: The pH-responsive urushiol-loaded micelles described in this study may be ideally suited for clinical use for the treatment of breast cancer.

Keywords: urushiol-loaded polymeric micelles, pH-sensitive, enhanced anticancer activity

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