JOURNAL ARTICLE

Dual pH/reduction-responsive hybrid polymeric micelles for targeted chemo-photothermal combination therapy

Linhua Zhang, Yu Qin, Zhiming Zhang, Fan Fan, Chenlu Huang, Li Lu, Hai Wang, Xu Jin, Hanxue Zhao, Deling Kong, Chun Wang, Hongfan Sun, Xigang Leng, Dunwan Zhu
Acta Biomaterialia 2018 July 15, 75: 371-385
29777957

The combination of chemotherapy and photothermal therapy in multifunctional nanovesicles has emerged as a promising strategy to improve cancer therapeutic efficacy. Herein, we designed new pH/reduction dual-responsive and folate decorated polymeric micelles (FA Co-PMs) as theranostic nanocarrier to co-encapsulate doxorubicin (DOX) and indocyanine green (ICG) for targeted NIR imaging and chemo-photothermal combination therapy. The Co-PMs exhibited nano-sized structure (∼100 nm) with good monodispersity, high encapsulation efficiency of both ICG and DOX, triggered DOX release in response to acid pH and reduction environment, and excellent temperature conversion with laser irradiation. In vitro cellular uptake study indicated FA Co-PMs achieved significant targeting to BEL-7404 cells via folate receptor-mediated endocytosis, and laser-induced hyperthermia further enhanced drug accumulation into cancer cells. In vivo biodistribution study indicated that FA Co-PMs prolonged drug circulation and enhanced drug accumulation into the tumor via EPR effect and FA targeting. Furthermore, the ICG-based photo-triggered hyperthermia combined with DOX-based chemotherapy synergistically induced the BEL-7404 cell death and apoptosis, and efficiently suppressed the BEL-7404 xenografted tumor growth while significantly reduced systemic toxicity in vivo. Therefore, the designed dual-responsive Co-PMs were promising theranostic nanocarriers for versatile antitumor drug delivery and imaging-guided cancer chemo-photothermal combination therapy.

STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: The combination of chemotherapy and photothermal therapy in multifunctional nanovesicles has emerged as a promising strategy to improve cancer therapeutic efficacy. Herein, we designed novel pH/reduction dual-responsive and folate decorated polymeric micelles (FA Co-PMs) as theranostic nanocarrier to co-encapsulate doxorubicin (DOX) and indocyanine green (ICG) for targeted NIR imaging and chemo-photothermal combination therapy. The Co-PMs triggered DOX release in response to acid pH and reduction environment and exhibited excellent temperature conversion with laser irradiation. The results indicated FA Co-PMs achieved significant targeting to BEL-7404 cells in vitro and efficiently suppressed the BEL-7404 xenografted tumor growth while significantly reduced systemic toxicity in vivo. Therefore, the designed dual-responsive Co-PMs displayed great potential in imaging-guided cancer chemo-photothermal combination therapy as theranostic nanocarriers.

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