Aptamer-conjugated and doxorubicin-loaded unimolecular micelles for targeted therapy of prostate cancer

Wenjin Xu, Imtiaz A Siddiqui, Minakshi Nihal, Srikanth Pilla, Kimberly Rosenthal, Hasan Mukhtar, Shaoqin Gong
Biomaterials 2013, 34 (21): 5244-53
In the absence of effective therapy for prostate cancer, there is an immense need for developing improved therapeutic options for the management of this disease. This study has demonstrated that aptamer-conjugated unimolecular micelles can improve the in vivo tumor biodistribution of systemically administered anti-cancer drugs in prostate cancer expressing prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA). The aptamer-conjugated unimolecular micelles were formed by individual hyperbranched polymer molecules consisting of a hyperbranched H40 polymer core and approximately 25 amphiphilic polylactide-poly(ethlyene glycol) (PLA-PEG) block copolymer arms (H40-PLA-PEG-Apt). The unimolecular micelles with an average hydrodynamic diameter of 69 nm exhibited a pH-sensitive and controlled drug release behavior. The targeted unimolecular micelles (i.e., DOX-loaded H40-PLA-PEG-Apt) exhibited a much higher cellular uptake in PSMA positive CWR22Rν1 prostate carcinoma cells than non-targeted unimolecular micelles (i.e., DOX-loaded H40-PLA-PEG), thereby leading to a significantly higher cytotoxicity. The DOX-loaded unimolecular micelles up-regulated the cleavage of PARP and Caspase 3 proteins and increased the protein expression of Bax along with a concomitant decrease in Bcl2. These micelles also increased the protein expression of cell cycle regulation marker P21 and P27. In CWR22Rν1 tumor-bearing mice, DOX-loaded H40-PLA-PEG-Apt micelles (i.e., targeted) also exhibited a much higher level of DOX accumulation in the tumor tissue than DOX-loaded H40-PLA-PEG micelles (i.e., non-targeted). These findings suggest that aptamer-conjugated unimolecular micelles may potentially be an effective drug nanocarrier to effectively treat prostate cancer.

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