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Mol Pharm. 2013 Oct 7;10(10):3892-902. doi: 10.1021/mp400360q. Epub 2013 Sep 11.

Long-circulating heparin-functionalized magnetic nanoparticles for potential application as a protein drug delivery platform.

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Tianjin Key Laboratory on Technologies Enabling Development of Clinical Therapeutics and Diagnosis, School of Pharmacy, Tianjin Medical University , Tianjin 300070, China.


Starch-coated, PEGylated, and heparin-functionalized iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles (DNPH) were successfully synthesized and characterized in detail. The PEGylation (20 kDa) process resulted in an average coating of 430 PEG molecules per nanoparticle. After that, heparin conjugation was carried out to attain the final DNPH platform with 35.4 μg of heparin/mg of Fe. Commercially acquired heparin-coated magnetic nanoparticles were also PEGylated (HP) and characterized for comparison. Protamine was selected as a model protein to demonstrate the strong binding affinity and high loading content of DNPH for therapeutically relevant cationic proteins. DNPH showed a maximum loading of 22.9 μg of protamine/mg of Fe. In the pharmacokinetic study, DNPH displayed a long-circulating half-life of 9.37 h, 37.5-fold longer than that (0.15 h) of HP. This improved plasma stability enabled extended exposure of DNPH to the tumor lesions, as was visually confirmed in a flank 9L-glioma mouse model using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Quantitative analysis of the Fe content in excised tumor lesions further demonstrated the superior tumor targeting ability of DNPH, with up to 31.36 μg of Fe/g of tissue (13.07% injected dose (I.D.)/g of tissue) and 7.5-fold improvement over that (4.27 μg of Fe/g of tissue; 1.78% I.D./g of tissue) of HP. Overall, this study shed light on the potential of DNPH to be used as a protein drug delivery platform.

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