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pH-responsive high-density lipoprotein-like nanoparticles to release paclitaxel at acidic pH in cancer chemotherapy

Authors Shin, Yang, Heo, Lee J, Kong B, Cho, Yoon K, Shin C, Seo, Kim, Kweon D

Received 9 January 2012

Accepted for publication 12 March 2012

Published 6 June 2012 Volume 2012:7 Pages 2805—2816


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Jae-Yoon Shin,1,* Yoosoo Yang,1,* Paul Heo,1 Ji-Chun Lee,1 ByoungJae Kong,1 Jae Youl Cho,1 Keejung Yoon,1 Cheol-Su Shin,2 Jin-Ho Seo,3 Sung-Gun Kim,4 Dae-Hyuk Kweon1
Department of Genetic Engineering, College of Biotechnology and Bioengineering, and Center for Human Interface Nano Technology, Sungkyunkwan University, 2APTech Research Center, Suwon, 3Department of Agricultural Biotechnology, Seoul National University, Seoul, 4Department of Biomedical Science, Youngdong University, Chungbuk, South Korea

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Background: Nanoparticles undergoing physicochemical changes to release enclosed drugs at acidic pH conditions are promising vehicles for antitumor drug delivery. Among the various drug carriers, high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-like nanoparticles have been shown to be beneficial for cancer chemotherapy, but have not yet been designed to be pH-responsive.
Methods and results: In this study, we developed a pH-responsive HDL-like nanoparticle that selectively releases paclitaxel, a model antitumor drug, at acidic pH. While the well known HDL-like nanoparticle containing phospholipids, phosphatidylcholine, and apolipoprotein A-I, as well as paclitaxel (PTX-PL-NP) was structurally robust at a wide range of pH values (3.8–10.0), the paclitaxel nanoparticle that only contained paclitaxel and apoA-I selectively released paclitaxel into the medium at low pH. The paclitaxel nanoparticle was stable at physiological and basic pH values, and over a wide range of temperatures, which is a required feature for efficient cancer chemotherapy. The homogeneous assembly enabled high paclitaxel loading per nanoparticle, which was 62.2% (w/w). The molar ratio of apolipoprotein A-I and paclitaxel was 1:55, suggesting that a single nanoparticle contained approximately 110 paclitaxel particles in a spherical structure with a 9.2 nm diameter. Among the several reconstitution methods applied, simple dilution following sonication enhanced the reconstitution yield of soluble paclitaxel nanoparticles, which was 0.66. As a result of the pH responsiveness, the anticancer effect of paclitaxel nanoparticles was much more potent than free paclitaxel or PTX-PL-NP.
Conclusion: The anticancer efficacy of both paclitaxel nanoparticles and PTX-PL-NP was dependent on the expression of scavenger receptor class B type I, while the killing efficacy of free paclitaxel was independent of this receptor. We speculate that the pH responsiveness of paclitaxel nanoparticles enabled efficient endosomal escape of paclitaxel before lysosomal break down. This is the first report on pH-responsive nanoparticles that do not contain any synthetic polymer.

Keywords: pH responsiveness, nanoparticle, apolipoprotein A-I, paclitaxel

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