Acid-triggered core cross-linked nanomicelles for targeted drug delivery and magnetic resonance imaging in liver cancer cells

Xian Li, Hao Li, Wei Yi, Jianyu Chen, Biling Liang
International Journal of Nanomedicine 2013, 8: 3019-31

PURPOSE: To research the acid-triggered core cross-linked folate-poly(ethylene glycol)-b-poly[N-(N',N'-diisopropylaminoethyl) glutamine] (folated-PEG-P[GA-DIP]) amphiphilic block copolymer for targeted drug delivery and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in liver cancer cells.

METHODS: As an appropriate receptor of protons, the N,N-diisopropyl tertiary amine group (DIP) was chosen to conjugate with the side carboxyl groups of poly(ethylene glycol)-b-poly (L-glutamic acid) to obtain PEG-P(GA-DIP) amphiphilic block copolymers. By ultrasonic emulsification, PEG-P(GA-DIP) could be self-assembled to form nanosized micelles loading doxorubicin (DOX) and superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) in aqueous solution. When PEG-P(GA-DIP) nanomicelles were combined with folic acid, the targeted effect of folated-PEG-P(GA-DIP) nanomicelles was evident in the fluorescence and MRI results.

RESULTS: To further increase the loading efficiency and the cell-uptake of encapsulated drugs (DOX and SPIONs), DIP (pKa≈6.3) groups were linked with ~50% of the side carboxyl groups of poly(L-glutamic acid) (PGA), to generate the core cross-linking under neutral or weakly acidic conditions. Under the acidic condition (eg, endosome/lysosome), the carboxyl groups were neutralized to facilitate disassembly of the P(GA-DIP) blocks' cross-linking, for duly accelerating the encapsulated drug release. Combined with the tumor-targeting effect of folic acid, specific drug delivery to the liver cancer cells and MRI diagnosis of these cells were greatly enhanced.

CONCLUSION: Acid-triggered and folate-decorated nanomicelles encapsulating SPIONs and DOX, facilitate the targeted MRI diagnosis and therapeutic effects in tumors.

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