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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Apr 23;110(17):6700-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1214547110. Epub 2013 Apr 8.

Inhibition of tumor growth and metastasis by a self-therapeutic nanoparticle.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Although biomedical applications of nanotechnology, which typically involve functionalized nanoparticles, have taken significant strides, biological characterization of unmodified nanoparticles remains underinvestigated. Herein we demonstrate that unmodified gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells in a size- and concentration-dependent manner by abrogating MAPK-signaling. In addition, these AuNPs reverse epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in cancer cells by reducing secretion of a number of proteins involved in EMT, up-regulating E-Cadherin, and down-regulating Snail, N-Cadherin, and Vimentin. Inhibition of MAPK signaling and reversal of EMT upon AuNP treatment inhibits tumor growth and metastasis in two separate orthotopic models of ovarian cancer. Western blot analyses of tumor tissues reveal up-regulation of E-Cadherin and down-regulation of Snail and phospho-MAPK, confirming the reversal of EMT and inhibition of MAPK signaling upon AuNP treatment. The ability of a single self-therapeutic nanoparticle to abrogate signaling cascades of multiple growth factors is distinctive and purports possible medical applications as potential antitumor and antimetastatic agent.

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