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Mol Pharm. 2018 Aug 6;15(8):3595-3599. doi: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.8b00419. Epub 2018 Jul 9.

Photosensitizer-Encapsulated Ferritins Mediate Photodynamic Therapy against Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts and Improve Tumor Accumulation of Nanoparticles.

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Department of Nuclear Medicine , China-Japan Union Hospital of Jilin University , 126 Xiantai Street , ErDao District, Changchun 13033 , China.


Nanoparticles have been widely tested as drug delivery carriers or imaging agents, largely because of their ability to selectively accumulate in tumors through the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect. However, studies show that many tumors afford a less efficient EPR effect and that many nanoparticles are trapped in the perivascular region after extravasation and barely migrate into tumor centers. This is to a large degree attributed to the dense tumor extracellular matrix (ECM), which functions as a physical barrier to prevent efficient nanoparticle extravasation and diffusion. In this study, we report a photodynamic therapy (PDT) approach to enhance tumor uptake of nanoparticles. Briefly, we encapsulate ZnF16Pc, a photosensitizer, into ferritin nanocages, and then conjugate to the surface of the ferritin a single chain viable fragment (scFv) sequence specific to fibroblast activation protein (FAP). FAP is a plasma surface protein widely upregulated in cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), which is a major source of the ECM fiber components. We found that the scFv-conjugated and ZnF16Pc-loaded ferritin nanoparticles (scFv-Z@FRT) can mediate efficient and selective PDT, leading to eradication of CAFs in tumors. When tested in bilateral 4T1 tumor models, we found that the tumor accumulation of serum albumin (BSA), 10 nm quantum dots (QDs), and 50 nm QDs was increased by 2-, 3.5-, and 18-fold after scFv-Z@FRT mediated PDT. Our studies suggest a novel and safe method to enhance the delivery of nanoparticles to tumors.


cancer-associated fibroblast; ferritin; fibroblast activation protein; photodynamic therapy; single chain viable fragment; tumor penetration

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