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Design and Fabrication of Multifunctional Sericin Nanoparticles for Tumor Targeting and pH-Responsive Subcellular Delivery of Cancer Chemotherapy Drugs

Huang, Lei, Tao, Kaixiong, Liu, Jia, Qi, Chao, Xu, Luming, Chang, Panpan, Gao, Jinbo, Shuai, Xiaoming, Wang, Guobin, Wang, Zheng, Wang, Lin
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2016 v.8 no.10 pp. 6577-6585
adverse effects, biocompatibility, chemical bonding, cytotoxicity, doxorubicin, drug therapy, folate receptors, folic acid, hydrophilicity, hydrophobicity, immune response, lysosomes, nanoparticles, neoplasm cells, neoplasms, pH, sericin, silk
The severe cytotoxicity of cancer chemotherapy drugs limits their clinical applications. Various protein-based nanoparticles with good biocompatibility have been developed for chemotherapy drug delivery in hope of reducing drugs’ side effects. Sericin, a natural protein from silk, has no immunogenicity and possesses diverse bioactivities that have prompted sericin’s application studies. However, the potential of sericin as a multifunctional nanoscale vehicle for cancer therapy have not been fully explored. Here we report the successful fabrication and characterization of folate-conjugated sericin nanoparticles with cancer-targeting capability for pH-responsive release of doxorubicin (these nanoparticles are termed “FA-SND”). DOX is covalently linked to sericin through pH-sensitive hydrazone bonds that render a pH-triggered release property. The hydrophobicity of DOX and the hydrophilicity of sericin promote the self-assembly of sericin-DOX (SND) nanoconjugates. Folate (FA) is then covalently grafted to SND nanoconjugates as a binding unit for actively targeting cancer cells that overexpress folate receptors. Our characterization study shows that FA-SND nanoparticles exhibit negative surface charges that would reduce nonspecific clearance by circulation. These nanoparticles possess good cytotoxicity and hemocompatibiliy. Acidic environment (pH 5.0) triggers effective DOX release from FA-SND, 5-fold higher than does a neutral condition (pH 7.4). Further, FA-SND nanoparticles specifically target folate-receptor-rich KB cells, and endocytosed into lysosomes, an acidic organelle. The acidic microenvironment of lysosomes promotes a rapid release of DOX to nuclei, producing cancer specific chemo-cytotoxicity. Thus, FA-mediated cancer targeting and lysosomal-acidity promoting DOX release, two sequentially-occurring cellular events triggered by the designed components of FA-SND, form the basis for FA-SND to achieve its localized and intracellular chemo-cytotoxicity. Together, this study suggests that these FA-SND nanoparticles may be a potentially effective carrier particularly useful for delivering hydrophobic chemotherapeutic agents for treating cancers with high-level expression of folate receptors.