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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2013 Aug;141(1):55-65.

Immunoliposome encapsulation increases cytotoxic activity and selectivity of curcumin and resveratrol against HER2 overexpressing human breast cancer cells.

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Department of Physiological Science, University of Catania, Viale A. Doria 6, 95125 Catania, Italy.


Natural compounds have been studied as a source of countless bioactive compounds with diverse activities. Among them, many dietary phytochemicals have been thoroughly studied for their cytotoxic or apoptotic effects in several cellular models in order to explain their anticancer capacity. Curcumin and resveratrol are two natural compounds with a large body of evidence showing their cytotoxic activity against a wide variety of cancer cells; however, their poor absorption, bioavailability, and low selectivity have limited their clinical use. With the aim of improving bioavailability and selectivity, the antiproliferative effects of free-, liposomed-, and immunoliposomed-curcumin and/or resveratrol formulations have been compared in two human breast cancer cell lines with different HER2 expression levels. The results demonstrate that when HER2-targeted immunoliposomes are coupled to trastuzumab there is a dramatic increase in the antiproliferative effects of curcumin and resveratrol in HER2 positive human breast cancer cells in comparison to regular liposomed or free forms, indicating an increase of its therapeutic effect. The enhancement of the cytotoxic effects was also correlated to the uptake of curcumin at intracellular level, as shown by using ImageStream technique. The striking efficacy of the immunoliposomed formulation containing both resveratrol and curcumin suggests a multitargeted mechanism of action that deserves further study. These findings show the potential of HER2-targeted nanovesicles to develop new drug delivery systems for cancer therapy based on these compounds and justify further preclinical trials.

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