Amphiphilic multi-arm-block copolymer conjugated with doxorubicin via pH-sensitive hydrazone bond for tumor-targeted drug delivery

Mani Prabaharan, Jamison J Grailer, Srikanth Pilla, Douglas A Steeber, Shaoqin Gong
Biomaterials 2009, 30 (29): 5757-66
Folate-conjugated unimolecular micelles based on amphiphilic hyperbranched block copolymer, Boltorn H40-poly(l-aspartate-doxorubicin)-b-poly(ethylene glycol)/FA-conjugated poly(ethylene glycol) (H40-P(LA-DOX)-b-PEG-OH/FA), were synthesized as a carrier for tumor-targeted drug delivery. The anticancer drug DOX was covalently conjugated onto the hydrophobic segments of the amphiphilic block copolymer arms by pH-sensitive hydrazone linkage. The size of the unimolecular micelles was determined as approximately 17-36 and 10-20 nm by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), respectively. The release profiles of the DOX from the H40-P(LA-DOX)-b-PEG-OH/FA micelles showed a strong dependence on the environmental pH values. The DOX release rate increased in the acidic medium due to the acid-cleavable hydrazone linkage between the DOX and micelles. Cellular uptake of the H40-P(LA-DOX)-b-PEG-OH/FA micelles was found to be higher than that of the H40-P(LA-DOX)-b-PEG-OH micelles because of the folate-receptor-mediated endocytosis, thereby providing higher cytotoxicity against the 4T1 mouse mammary carcinoma cell line. Degradation studies showed that the H40-P(LA-DOX)-b-PEG-OH/FA copolymer hydrolytically degraded into polymer fragments within six weeks. These results suggest that H40-P(LA-DOX)-b-PEG-OH/FA micelles could be a promising nanocarrier with excellent in vivo stability for targeting the drugs to cancer cells and releasing the drug molecules inside the cells by sensing the acidic environment of the endosomal compartments.

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