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Self-Assembled Copper–Amino Acid Nanoparticles for in Situ Glutathione “AND” H₂O₂ Sequentially Triggered Chemodynamic Therapy

Ma, Baojin, Wang, Shu, Liu, Feng, Zhang, Shan, Duan, Jiazhi, Li, Zhao, Kong, Ying, Sang, Yuanhua, Liu, Hong, Bu, Wenbo, Li, Linlin
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2018 v.141 no.2 pp. 849-857
amino acids, apoptosis, breast neoplasms, copper, copper nanoparticles, cytotoxicity, drug resistance, endocytosis, glutathione, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radicals, neoplasm cells, oxygen, pH, redox reactions, therapeutics
Nanoformulations that can respond to the specific tumor microenvironment (TME), such as a weakly acidic pH, low oxygen, and high glutathione (GSH), show promise for killing cancer cells with minimal invasiveness and high specificity. In this study, we demonstrate self-assembled copper–amino acid mercaptide nanoparticles (Cu-Cys NPs) for in situ glutathione-activated and H₂O₂-reinforced chemodynamic therapy for drug-resistant breast cancer. After endocytosis into tumor cells, the Cu-Cys NPs could first react with local GSH, induce GSH depletion, and reduce Cu²⁺ to Cu⁺. Subsequently, the generated Cu⁺ would react with local H₂O₂ to generate toxic hydroxyl radicals (·OH) via a Fenton-like reaction, which has a fast reaction rate in the weakly acidic TME, that are responsible for tumor-cell apoptosis. Due to the high GSH and H₂O₂ concentration in tumor cells, which sequentially triggers the redox reactions, Cu-Cys NPs exhibited relatively high cytotoxicity to cancer cells, whereas normal cells were left alive. The in vivo results also proved that Cu-Cys NPs efficiently inhibited drug-resistant breast cancer without causing obvious systemic toxicity. As a novel copper mercaptide nanoformulation responsive to the TME, these Cu-Cys NPs may have great potential in chemodynamic cancer therapy.