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ACS Nano. 2019 Jun 25;13(6):7010-7023. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.9b02096. Epub 2019 Jun 12.

High Co-loading Capacity and Stimuli-Responsive Release Based on Cascade Reaction of Self-Destructive Polymer for Improved Chemo-Photodynamic Therapy.

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Division of Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics, Eshelman School of Pharmacy , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , Chapel Hill , North Carolina 27599 , United States.


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) shows a promising synergy with chemotherapy in the therapeutic outcome of malignant cancers. The minimal invasiveness and nonsystemic toxicity are appealing advantages of PDT, but combination with chemotherapy brings in the nonselective toxicity. We designed a polymeric nanoparticle system that contains both a chemotherapeutic agent and a photosensitizer to seek improvement for chemo-photodynamic therapy. First, to address the challenge of efficient co-delivery, polymer-conjugated doxorubicin (PEG-PBC-TKDOX) was synthesized to load photosensitizer chlorin e6 (Ce6). Ce6 is retained with DOX by a π-π stacking interaction, with high loading (41.9 wt %) and the optimal nanoparticle size (50 nm). Second, light given in PDT treatment not only excites Ce6 to produce cytotoxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) but also spatiotemporally activates a cascade reaction to release the loaded drugs. Finally, we report a self-destructive polymeric carrier (PEG-PBC-TKDOX) that depolymerizes its backbone to facilitate drug release upon ROS stimulus. This is achieved by grafting the ROS-sensitive pendant thioketal to aliphatic polycarbonate. When DOX is covalently modified to this polymer via thioketal, target specificity is controlled by light, and off-target delivery toxicity is mostly avoided. An oral squamous cell carcinoma that is clinically relevant to PDT was used as the cancer model. We put forward a polymeric system with improved efficiency for chemo-photodynamic therapy and reduced off-target toxicity.


ROS-sensitive; biodegradable; chemo-photodynamic; depolymerization; polycarbonate; polymer; self-cleavage


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