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Biomaterials. 2014 Mar;35(10):3467-79. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2013.12.096. Epub 2014 Jan 15.

The anti-tumor efficacy of curcumin when delivered by size/charge-changing multistage polymeric micelles based on amphiphilic poly(β-amino ester) derivates.

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College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Zhejiang University, 866 Yu-Hang-Tang Road, Hangzhou 310058, China.
College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Zhejiang University, 866 Yu-Hang-Tang Road, Hangzhou 310058, China. Electronic address:


Modifying positive surface charge and reducing bulk size of nanoparticles has been proven beneficial to cancer cellular delivery, but meanwhile results in fast clearance and unspecific distribution in body after intravenous injection. How to balance these problems is still a challenge to construct an ideal nano-scaled drug delivery system in cancer treatment. Herein, we developed a multistage drug delivery system to enhance anticancer efficacy of curcumin (CUR), which could intelligently alter its size and surface charge after long-circulation and extravasation from leaky blood vessels at tumor sites. This micellar system was constructed by amphiphilic and pH-sensitive methoxy poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(lactide)-poly(β-amino ester) (MPEG-PLA-PAE) copolymers. As compared with MPEG-PLA micelles, MPEG-PLA-PAE micelles displayed several advantageous characteristics for drug delivery and treatment. We found that CUR-loaded MPEG-PLA-PAE micelles remained stable in murine plasma at 37 °C even with high drug loading. More interestingly, when the media pH decreased from 7.4 to 5.5, the micelles shrank from 171.0 nm to 22.6 nm and their surface charge increased to 24.8 mV meanwhile, which resulted in the significantly improved cell uptake of CUR by human breast cancer MCF-7 cells. Using indocyanine green (ICG) as a fluorescence probe, it was observed that MPEG-PLA-PAE micelles experienced longer circulation than MPEG-PLA micelles followed by accumulation at tumors with stronger fluorescence intensity. Consequently, MPEG-PLA-PAE micelles achieved enhanced cancer growth inhibition of 65.6% in vivo. All these findings demonstrated the potential of size/charge-changing MPEG-PLA-PAE micelles as a promising drug delivery system for tumor-targeted therapy.


Cancer therapy; Curcumin; Indocyanine green; Multistage pH-sensitive micelle; Poly(lactide); Poly(β-amino ester)

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