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ACS Nano. 2018 Feb 27;12(2):1519-1536. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.7b08051. Epub 2018 Jan 24.

Nanoplatform Assembled from a CD44-Targeted Prodrug and Smart Liposomes for Dual Targeting of Tumor Microenvironment and Cancer Cells.

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Department of Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy, China Pharmaceutical University , Nanjing 210009, P.R. China.


The tumor microenvironment (TME) plays a critical role in tumor initiation, progression, invasion, and metastasis. Therefore, a therapy that combines chemotherapeutic drugs with a TME modulator could be a promising route for cancer treatment. This paper reports a nanoplatform self-assembled from a hyaluronic acid (HA)-paclitaxel (PTX) (HA-PTX) prodrug and marimastat (MATT)-loaded thermosensitive liposomes (LTSLs) (MATT-LTSLs) for the dual targeting of the TME and cancer cells. Interestingly, the prodrug HA-PTX can self-assemble on both positively and negatively charged liposomes, forming hybrid nanoparticles (HNPs, 100 nm). Triggered by mild hyperthermia, HA-PTX/MATT-LTSLs HNPs rapidly release their payloads into the extracellular environment, and the released HA-PTX quickly enters 4T1 cells through a CD44-HA affinity. The HNPs possess promoted tumor accumulation (1.6-fold), exhibit deep tumor penetration, and significantly inhibit the tumor growth (10-fold), metastasis (100%), and angiogenesis (10-fold). Importantly, by targeting the TME and maintaining its integrity via inhibiting the expression and activity of matrix metalloproteinases (>5-fold), blocking the fibroblast activation by downregulating the TGF-β1 expression (5-fold) and suppressing the degradation of extracellular matrix, the HNPs allow for significant metastasis inhibition. Overall, these findings indicate that a prodrug of an HA-hydrophobic-active compound and liposomes can be self-assembled into a smart nanoplatform for the dual targeting of the TME and tumor cells and efficient combined treatment; additionally, the co-delivery of MATT and HA-PTX with the HNPs is a promising approach for the treatment of metastatic cancer. This study creates opportunities for fabricating multifunctional nanodevices and offers an efficient strategy for disease therapy.


extracellular matrix; matrix metalloproteinases; metastatic breast cancer; prodrug; thermosensitive liposomes; tumor microenvironment


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