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ACS Nano. 2016 Oct 25;10(10):9243-9258. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.6b02776. Epub 2016 Sep 28.

The Binding Site Barrier Elicited by Tumor-Associated Fibroblasts Interferes Disposition of Nanoparticles in Stroma-Vessel Type Tumors.

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Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics and Center of Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery, Eshelman School of Pharmacy, ‡Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, §Departments of Mathematics and Applied Physical Science, ∥Department of Medicine, ⊥Department of Pathology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, United States.


The binding site barrier (BSB) was originally proposed to describe the binding behavior of antibodies to cells peripheral to blood vessels, preventing their further penetration into the tumors. Yet, it is revisited herein to describe the intratumoral cellular disposition of nanoparticles (NPs). Specifically, the BSB limits NP diffusion and results in unintended internalization of NPs by stroma cells localized near blood vessels. This not only limits the therapeutic outcome but also promotes adverse off-target effects. In the current study, it was shown that tumor-associated fibroblast cells (TAFs) are the major component of the BSB, particularly in tumors with a stroma-vessel architecture where the location of TAFs aligns with blood vessels. Specifically, TAF distance to blood vessels, expression of receptor proteins, and binding affinity affect the intensity of the BSB. The physical barrier elicited by extracellular matrix also prolongs the retention of NPs in the stroma, potentially contributing to the BSB. The influence of particle size on the BSB was also investigated. The strongest BSB effect was found with small (∼18 nm) NPs targeted with the anisamide ligand. The uptake of these NPs by TAFs was about 7-fold higher than that of the other cells 16 h post-intravenous injection. This was because TAFs also expressed the sigma receptor under the influence of TGF-β secreted by the tumor cells. Overall, the current study underscores the importance of BSBs in the delivery of nanotherapeutics and provides a rationale for exploiting BSBs to target TAFs.


binding site barrier; desmoplastic tumor; nanoparticle; stroma-vessel type tumor; tumor-associated fibroblast

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