Yang, S., Leong, J., Wang, Y., Sim, R., Tan, K. H., Chua, Y. H., Tan, N., Lee, A. L. Z., Tay, J., &amp;amp; Yang, Y. Y. (2022). Drug-free neutrally charged polypeptide nanoparticles as anticancer agents. Journal of Controlled Release, 345, 464–474. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jconrel.2022.03.034
Cationic synthetic anticancer polymers and peptides have attracted increasing attention for advancing cancer treatment without causing drug resistance development. To circumvent in vivo instability and toxicity caused by cationic charges of the anticancer polymers/peptides, we report, for the first time, a nanoparticulate delivery system self-assembled from a negatively charged pH-sensitive polypeptide poly(ethylene glycol)-b-poly(ʟ-lysine)-graft-cyclohexene-1,2-dicarboxylic anhydride and a cationic anticancer polypeptide guanidinium-functionalized poly(ʟ-lysine) (PLL-Gua) via electrostatic interaction. The formation of nanoparticles (Gua-NPs) neutralized the positive charges of PLL-Gua. Both PLL-Gua and Gua-NPs killed cancer cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner, and induced cell death via apoptosis. Confocal microscopic studies demonstrated that PLL-Gua and Gua-NPs readily entered cancer cells, and Gua-NPs were taken up by the cells via endocytosis. Notably, Gua-NPs and PLL-Gua exhibited similar in vitro anticancer efficacy against MCF-7 and resistant MCF-7/ADR. PLL-Gua and Gua-NPs also induced similar morphological changes in MCF-7/ADR cells compared to MCF-7 cells, further indicating their ability to bypass drug resistance mechanisms in the MCF-7/ADR cells. More importantly, Gua-NPs with higher LD50 and enhanced tumor accumulation significantly inhibited tumor growth with negligible side effects in vivo. Our findings shed light on the in vivo delivery of anticancer peptides and opened a new avenue for cancer treatment.
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This research is supported by core funding from: Institute of Bioengineering and Bioimaging
Grant Reference no. : N.A
Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore for the AGS Ph.D. scholarship.