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J Control Release. 2018 May 10;277:89-101. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2018.03.006. Epub 2018 Mar 6.

Transferrin-targeted, resveratrol-loaded liposomes for the treatment of glioblastoma.

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Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Nanomedicine, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Nanomedicine, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Electronic address:


Glioblastomas (GBMs) are highly aggressive brain tumors with a very grim prognosis even after multi-modal therapeutic regimens. Conventional chemotherapeutic agents frequently lead to drug resistance and result in severe toxicities to non-cancerous tissues. Resveratrol (RES), a natural polyphenol with pleiotropic health benefits, has proven chemopreventive effects in all the stages of cancer including initiation, promotion and progression. However, the poor physico-chemical properties of RES severely limit its use as a free drug. In this study, RES was loaded into PEGylated liposomes (RES-L) to counter its drawbacks as a free drug. Since transferrin receptors (TfRs) are up-regulated in GBM, the liposome surface was modified with transferrin moieties (Tf-RES-L) to make them cancer cell-specific. The liposomal nanomedicines developed in this project were aimed at enhancing the physico-chemical properties of RES and exploiting the passive and active targeting capabilities of liposomes to effectively treat GBM. The RES-L were stable, had a good drug-loading capacity, prolonged drug-release in vitro and were easily scalable. Flow cytometry and confocal microscopy were used to study the association with, and internalization of, Tf-L into U-87 MG cells. The Tf-RES-Ls were significantly more cytotoxic and induced higher levels of apoptosis accompanied by activation of caspases 3/7 in GBM cells when compared to free RES or RES-L. The ability of RES to arrest cells in the S-phase of the cell cycle, and selectively induce production of reactive oxygen species in cancer cells were probably responsible for its cytotoxic effects. The therapeutic efficacy of RES formulations was evaluated in a subcutaneous xenograft mouse model of GBM. A tumor growth inhibition study and a modified survival study showed that Tf-RES-Ls were more effective than other treatments in their ability to inhibit tumor growth and improve survival in mice. Overall, the liposomal nanomedicines of RES developed in this project exhibited favorable in vitro and in vivo efficacies, which warrant their further investigation for the treatment of GBMs.


Cancer; Drug delivery; Glioblastoma; Liposomes; Resveratrol; Targeting; Transferrin

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