EGFR-targeted stearoyl gemcitabine nanoparticles show enhanced anti-tumor activity.
ABSTRACT: Previously, it was shown that a novel 4-(N)-stearoyl gemcitabine nanoparticle formulation was more effective than gemcitabine hydrochloride in controlling the growth of model mouse or human tumors pre-established in mice. In the present study, the feasibility of targeting the stearoyl gemcitabine nanoparticles (GemC18-NPs) into tumor cells that over-express epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) to more effectively control tumor growth was evaluated. EGFR is over-expressed in a variety of tumor cells, and EGF is a known natural ligand of EGFR. Recombinant murine EGF was conjugated onto the GemC18-NPs. The ability of the EGF to target the GemC18-NPs to human breast adenocarcinoma cells that expressed different levels of EGFR was evaluated in vitro and in vivo. In culture, the extent to which the EGF-conjugated GemC18-NPs were taken up by tumor cells was correlated to the EGFR density on the tumor cells, whereas the uptake of untargeted GemC18-NPs exhibited no difference among those same cell lines. The relative cytotoxicity of the EGF-conjugated GemC18-NPs to tumor cells in culture was correlated to EGFR expression as well. In vivo, EGFR-over-expressing MDA-MB-468 tumors in mice treated with the EGF-conjugated GemC18-NPs grew significantly slower than in mice treated with untargeted GemC18-NPs, likely due to that the EGF-GemC18-NPs were more anti-proliferative, anti-angiogenic, and pro-apoptotic. Fluorescence intensity data from ex vivo imaging showed that the EGF on the nanoparticles helped increase the accumulation of the GemC18-NPs into MDA-MB-468 tumors pre-established in mice by more than 2-fold as compared to the un-targeted GemC18-NPs. In conclusion, active targeting of the GemC18-NPs into EGFR-over-expressed tumors can further enhance their anti-tumor activity.
Project description:Gemcitabine is a deoxycytidine analog used in the treatment of various solid tumors. However, tumors often develop resistances over time, which becomes a major issue for most gemcitabine-related chemotherapies. In the present study, a previously reported stearoyl gemcitabine nanoparticle formulation (GemC18-NPs) was evaluated for its ability to overcome gemcitabine resistance. In the wild type CCRF-CEM human leukemia cells, the IC(50) value of GemC18-NPs was 9.5-fold greater than that of gemcitabine hydrochloride (HCl). However, in the CCRF-CEM-AraC-8C cells that are deficient in the human equilibrative nucleoside transporter-1, the IC(50) of GemC18-NPs was only 3.4-fold greater than that in the parent CCRF-CEM cells, whereas the IC(50) of gemcitabine HCl was 471-fold greater than that in the parent CCRF-CEM cells. The GemC18-NPs were also more cytotoxic than gemcitabine HCl in the deoxycytidine kinase deficient (CCRF-CEM/dCK(-/-)) tumor cells. Similar to gemcitabine HCl, GemC18-NPs induced apoptosis through caspase activation. Another gemcitabine-resistant tumor cell line, TC-1-GR, was developed in our laboratory. In the TC-1-GR cells, the IC(50) of GemC18-NPs was only 5% of that of gemcitabine HCl. Importantly, GemC18-NPs effectively controlled the growth of gemcitabine resistant TC-1-GR tumors in mice, whereas the molar equivalent dose of gemcitabine HCl did not show any activity against the growth of the TC-1-GR tumors. Proteomics analysis revealed that the TC-1-GR cells over-expressed ribonucleotide reductase M1, which was likely the cause of the acquired gemcitabine resistance in the TC-1-GR cells. To our best knowledge, this represents the first report demonstrating that a nanoparticle formulation of gemcitabine overcomes gemcitabine resistance related to ribonucleotide reductase M1 over-expression.
Project description:Gemcitabine is a deoxycytidine analog that is widely used in the chemotherapy of many solid tumors. However, acquired tumor cell resistance often limits its use. Previously, we discovered that 4-(N)-stearoyl gemcitabine solid lipid nanoparticles (4-(N)-GemC18-SLNs) can overcome multiple acquired gemcitabine resistance mechanisms, including RRM1 overexpression. The present study was designed to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the 4-(N)-GemC18-SLNs' ability to overcome gemcitabine resistance. The 4-(N)-GemC18 in the 4-(N)-GemC18-SLNs entered tumor cells due to clathrin-mediated endocytosis of the 4-(N)-GemC18-SLNs into the lysosomes of the cells, whereas the 4-(N)-GemC18 alone in solution entered cells by diffusion. We substantiated that it is the way the 4-(N)-GemC18-SLNs deliver the 4-(N)-GemC18 into tumor cells that allows the gemcitabine hydrolyzed from the 4-(N)-GemC18 to be more efficiently converted into its active metabolite, gemcitabine triphosphate (dFdCTP), and thus more potent against gemcitabine-resistant tumor cells than 4-(N)-GemC18 or gemcitabine alone. Moreover, we also showed that the RRM1-overexpressing tumor cells were also cross-resistant to cytarabine, another nucleoside analog commonly used in cancer therapy, and 4-(N)-stearoyl cytarabine carried by solid lipid nanoparticles can also overcome the resistance. Therefore, formulating the long-chain fatty acid amide derivatives of nucleoside analogs into solid lipid nanoparticles may represent a platform technology to increase the antitumor activity of the nucleoside analogs and to overcome tumor cell resistance to them.
Project description:Stimulus-sensitive micelles are attractive anticancer drug delivery systems. Herein, we reported a novel strategy to engineer acid-sensitive micelles using a amphiphilic material synthesized by directly conjugating the hydrophilic poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) with a hydrophobic stearic acid derivative (C18) using an acid-sensitive hydrazone bond (PHC). An acid-insensitive PEG-amide-C18 (PAC) compound was also synthesized as a control. 4-(N)-Stearoyl gemcitabine (GemC18), a prodrug of the nucleoside analogue gemcitabine, was loaded into the micelles, and they were found to be significantly more cytotoxic to tumor cells than GemC18 solution, likely due to the lysosomal delivery of GemC18 by micelles. Moreover, GemC18 in the acid-sensitive PHC micelles was more cytotoxic than in the acid-insensitive PAC micelles, which may be attributed to the acid-sensitive release of GemC18 from the PHC micelles in lysosomes. In B16-F10 melanoma-bearing mice, GemC18-loaded PHC or PAC micelles showed stronger antitumor activity than GemC18 or gemcitabine solution, likely because of the prolonged circulation time and increased tumor accumulation of the GemC18 by the micelles. Importantly, the in vivo antitumor activity of GemC18-loaded PHC micelles was significantly stronger than that of the PAC micelles, demonstrating the potential of the novel acid-sensitive micelles as an anticancer drug delivery system.
Project description:Chemoresistance is a major issue for most gemcitabine-related chemotherapies. The overexpression of ribonucleotide reductase subunit M1 (RRM1) plays a key role in gemcitabine resistance. In this study, we synthesized a new highly acid-sensitive amphiphilic micelle material by conjugating hydrophilic polyethylene glycol with a hydrophobic stearic acid derivative (C18) using a hydrazone bond, which was named as PHC-2. A lipophilic prodrug of gemcitabine, 4-(N)-stearoyl gemcitabine (GemC18), was loaded into micelles prepared with PHC-2, a previously synthesized less acid-sensitive PHC-1, and their acid-insensitive counterpart, PAC. GemC18 loaded in acid-sensitive micelles can overcome gemcitabine resistance, and GemC18 in the highly acid-sensitive PHC-2 micelles was more cytotoxic than in the less acid-sensitive PHC-1 micelles. Mechanistic studies revealed that upon cellular uptake and lysosomal delivery, GemC18 in the acid-sensitive micelles was released and hydrolyzed more efficiently. Furthermore, GemC18 loaded in the highly acid-sensitive PHC-2 micelles inhibited the expression of RRM1 and increased the level of gemcitabine triphosphate (dFdCTP) in gemcitabine resistant tumor cells. The strategy of delivering lipophilized nucleoside analogs using highly acid-sensitive micelles may represent a new platform technology to increase the antitumor activity of nucleoside analogs and to overcome tumor cell resistance to them.
Project description:Gemcitabine is a potent anticancer drug approved for the treatment of pancreatic, non-small-cell lung, breast, and ovarian cancers. The major deficiencies of current gemcitabine therapy, however, are its rapid metabolic inactivation and narrow therapeutic window. Herein, we employed polyethylene glycol-b-distearoylphosphatidylethanolamine (PEG-DSPE)/tocopheryl polyethylene glycol 1000 succinate (TPGS) mixed micelles as a delivery system, to improve the pharmacokinetic characteristics of gemcitabine and enhance its antitumor efficacy. By conjugating stearic acid to gemcitabine and subsequently encapsulating stearoyl gemcitabine (GemC18) within PEG-DSPE/TPGS mixed micelles, the deamination of gemcitabine was delayed in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, compared to free gemcitabine, GemC18-loaded micelles pronouncedly prolonged the circulation time of gemcitabine and elevated its concentration in the tumor by 3-fold, resulting in superior antitumor efficacy in mice bearing human pancreatic cancer BxPC-3 xenografts. Our findings demonstrate the promise of PEG-DSPE/TPGS mixed micelles as a nanocarrier system for the delivery of gemcitabine to achieve safer and more efficacious therapeutic outcomes.
Project description:Multivalent presentation of ligands on nanoparticles (NPs) is considered a general strategy for enhancing receptor binding and activation through amplification of ligand-receptor interactions within the footprint of the individual NPs. The spatial clustering of ligand-functionalized NPs represents an additional, less well understood mechanism for increasing local ligand-receptor interactions, especially for receptors that form higher-order assemblies, such as the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR). To shed light on the interplay between ligand density ( i.e., multivalency) and NP clustering in signal amplification, we apply EGF-functionalized 72 ± 1 nm gold nanoparticles (NP-EGF) with known ligand loading (10-200 EGF/NP) as quantifiable and experimentally tractable units of EGFR activation and characterize the NP-mediated amplification of EGFR phosphorylation as a function of both EGF surface density and NP-EGF clustering for two cancer cell lines (HeLa and MDA-MB-468). The measurements confirm a strong multivalent amplification of EGFR phosphorylation through NP-EGF on the cellular level that results in EGF-loading-dependent maximum EGFR phosphorylation levels. A microscopic analysis of NP-EGF-induced EGFR phosphorylation reveals a heterogeneous spatial distribution of EGFR activation across the cell surface. Clustering of multivalent NP-EGF on sub-diffraction-limited length scales is found to result in a local enhancement of EGFR phosphorylation in signaling "hot spots" from where the signal can spread laterally in an EGF-independent fashion. Increasing EGF loadings of the NP enhances NP-EGF clustering and intensifies EGFR phosphorylation. These observations suggest that NP-EGF clustering and the associated local enhancement of ligand-receptor interactions are intrinsic components of the multivalent amplification of phosphorylation for the heterogeneously distributed EGFR through NP-EGF.
Project description:The epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) is a ubiquitously expressed receptor tyrosine kinase that regulates diverse cell functions that are dependent upon cell type, the presence of downstream effectors, and receptor density. In addition to activating biochemical pathways, ligand stimulation causes the EGFR to enter the cell via clathrin-coated pits. Endocytic trafficking influences receptor signaling by controlling the duration of EGFR phosphorylation and coordinating the receptor's association with downstream effectors. To better understand the individual contributions of cell surface and cytosolic EGFRs on cell physiology, we used EGF that was conjugated to 900 nm polystyrene beads (EGF-beads). EGF-beads can stimulate the EGFR and retain the activated receptor at the plasma membrane. In MDA-MB-468 cells, a breast cancer cell line that over-expresses the EGFR, only internalized, activated EGFRs stimulate caspase-3 and induce cell death. Conversely, signaling cascades triggered from activated EGFR retained at the cell surface inhibit caspase-3 and promote cell proliferation. Thus, through endocytosis, the activated EGFR can differentially regulate cell growth in MDA-MB-468 cells.
Project description:Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is overexpressed in many types of cancers, which is associated with metastatic potential and poor prognosis in cancer patients. Therefore, development of EGFR-targeted sensitive imaging probes has been a challenge in tumor targeting, image-guided cancer surgery, patient-selective anti-EGFR therapy, and efficient targeted therapies. Methods: We synthesized a zwitterionic near-infrared fluorophore (ATTO655)-conjugated epidermal growth factor (EGF) as a novel activatable molecular probe. Fluorescence OFF/ON property and EGFR-targeting specificity of EGF-ATTO655 as well as its utility in real-time near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence imaging of EGFR-positive cancers were evaluated using in vitro and in vivo studies. Results: When conjugated to EGF, the fluorescence of ATTO655 quenched efficiently by photo-induced electron transfer (PET) mechanism between the conjugated dyes and nearby amino acid quenchers (tryptophan/tyrosine residues), which was stably maintained at physiological pH and in the presence of serum for at least 17 h. The fluorescence of EGF-ATTO655 turned on by receptor-mediated endocytosis and subsequent disintegration of EGF in EGFR-positive A431 cancer cells, thereby enabling specific and real-time fluorescence imaging of EGFR-positive cancer cells. Consequently, EGFR-positive tumors could be clearly visualized 3 h post-injection with a significantly high tumor-to-background ratio (TBR = 6.37). Conclusion: This PET mechanism-based OFF/ON type of EGF probe showed great potential for rapid, real-time, and target-cell-specific imaging of EGFR-overexpressing cancers in vitro and in vivo.
Project description:We designed and synthesized novel theranostic nanoparticles that showed the considerable potential for clinical use in targeted therapy, and non-invasive real-time monitoring of tumors by MRI. Our nanoparticles were ultra-small with superparamagnetic iron oxide cores, conjugated to erlotinib (FeDC-E NPs). Such smart targeted nanoparticles have the preference to release the drug intracellularly rather than into the bloodstream, and specifically recognize and kill cancer cells that overexpress EGFR while being non-toxic to EGFR-negative cells. MRI, transmission electron microscopy and Prussian blue staining results indicated that cellular uptake and intracellular accumulation of FeDC-E NPs in the EGFR overexpressing cells was significantly higher than those of the non-erlotinib-conjugated nanoparticles. FeDC-E NPs inhibited the EGFR-ERK-NF-?B signaling pathways, and subsequently suppressed the migration and invasion capabilities of the highly invasive and migrative CL1-5-F4 cancer cells. In vivo tumor xenograft experiments using BALB/c nude mice showed that FeDC-E NPs could effectively inhibit the growth of tumors. T2-weighted MRI images of the mice showed significant decrease in the normalized signal within the tumor post-treatment with FeDC-E NPs compared to the non-targeted control iron oxide nanoparticles. This is the first study to use erlotinib as a small-molecule targeting agent for nanoparticles.
Project description:Breast cancer cell invasion is influenced by growth factor concentration gradients in the tumor microenvironment. However, studying the influence of growth factor gradients on breast cancer cell invasion is challenging due to both the complexities of in vivo models and the difficulties in recapitulating the tumor microenvironment with defined gradients using in vitro models. A defined hyaluronic acid (HA)-based hydrogel crosslinked with matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) cleavable peptides and modified with multiphoton labile nitrodibenzofuran (NDBF) was synthesized to photochemically immobilize epidermal growth factor (EGF) gradients. We demonstrate that EGF gradients can differentially influence breast cancer cell invasion and drug response in cell lines with different EGF receptor (EGFR) expression levels. Photopatterned EGF gradients increase the invasion of moderate EGFR expressing MDA-MB-231?cells, reduce invasion of high EGFR expressing MDA-MB-468?cells, and have no effect on invasion of low EGFR-expressing MCF-7?cells. We evaluate MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468?cell response to the clinically tested EGFR inhibitor, cetuximab. Interestingly, the cellular response to cetuximab is completely different on the EGF gradient hydrogels: cetuximab decreases MDA-MB-231?cell invasion but increases MDA-MB-468?cell invasion and cell number, thus demonstrating the importance of including cell-microenvironment interactions when evaluating drug targets.