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J Control Release. 2010 Dec 1;148(2):255-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2010.08.006. Epub 2010 Sep 8.

In vitro anticancer activity of docetaxel-loaded micelles based on poly(ethylene oxide)-poly(epsilon-caprolactone) block copolymers: Do nanocarrier properties have a role?

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical and Toxicological Chemistry, University of Naples Federico II, Via D. Montesano 49, 80131, Naples, Italy.


In this paper we have investigated the behavior of core-shell poly(ethylene oxide)-poly(epsilon-caprolactone) (PEO-PCL) micelles derived from copolymers with linear triblock (TR) and 4-arm star-diblock (ST) architectures for the delivery of docetaxel (DTX). DTX was loaded inside micelles (DTX-TR(m) and DTX-ST(m)) with high efficiency and released slowly for more than two weeks. DTX-loaded micelles based on both copolymers had very similar properties in terms of mean size, zeta potential, loading ability and release rate in buffered saline. However, the stability of DTX-ST(m) was very poor in aqueous media with proteins resulting in a strong and progressive aggregation. We studied the effect of increasing concentrations of free DTX or DTX-loaded micelles on growth inhibition of human breast MCF-7 and MDA-MB468 and prostate PC3 and DU145 adenocarcinoma cell lines. DTX-loaded TR micelles induced cell growth inhibition similarly to free DTX whereas DTX-ST(m) showed lower cytotoxicity. On the other hand, by normalizing IC(50) values for the actual amount of DTX released from micelles in the medium, DTX-loaded ST micelles became more active than free DTX in all cell lines tested. Both free DTX and DTX-loaded TR micelles displayed a significantly lower cytotoxic activity in G(2)/M phase synchronized cells, whereas cytotoxicity of DTX-loaded ST micelles did not change. Cytotoxicity was related to micelle stability, uptake and release rate in cell culture media. Our results suggest that for a correct interpretation of cytotoxicity of nanocarriers, the evaluation of their behavior in biologically relevant conditions is of utmost importance to select proper systems for further in vivo testing.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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