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1.  Novel liver-specific cholic acid-cytarabine conjugates with potent antitumor activities: Synthesis and biological characterization 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2011;32(5):664-672.
Aim:
Cytarabine is an efficient anticancer agent for acute myelogenous leukemia, but with short plasma half-life and rapid deamination to its inactive metabolite. The aim of this study was to design and synthesize novel cholic acid-cytarabine conjugates to improve its pharmacokinetic parameters.
Methods:
The in vitro stability of novel cholic acid-cytarabine conjugates was investigated in simulated gastric and intestinal fluid, mouse blood and liver homogenate using HPLC. The portacaval samples of the conjugates were examined in male Sprague-Dawley rats using LC/MS, and in vivo distribution was examined in male Kunming mice using LC/MS. Antitumor activities were tested in HL60 cells using MTT assay.
Results:
Cholic acid-cytarabine compounds with four different linkers were designed and synthesized. All the four cholic acid-cytarabine conjugates could release cytarabine when incubated with the simulated gastric and intestinal fluid, mouse blood and liver homogenate. The conjugates 6, 12, and 16 were present in the portacaval samples, whereas the conjugate 7 was not detected. The conjugates 6 and 16 showed high specificity in targeting the liver (liver target index 34.9 and 16.3, respectively) and good absorption in vivo, as compared with cytarabine. In cytarabine-sensitive HL60 cells, the conjugates 6, 12, and 16 retained potent antitumor activities.
Conclusion:
Three novel cholic acid-cytarabine conjugates with good liver-targeting properties and absorption were obtained. Further optimization of the conjugates is needed in the future.
doi:10.1038/aps.2011.7
PMCID: PMC4002521  PMID: 21516131
cytarabine; cholic acid; liver; antitumor drug
2.  Antitumor Agents. 256. Conjugation of Paclitaxel with Other Antitumor Agents: Evaluation of Novel Conjugates as Cytotoxic Agents 
Fifteen different taxoid conjugates were prepared by linking various anticancer compounds, including camptothecin (CPT), epipodophyllotoxin (EP), colchicine (COL), and glycyrrhetinic acid (GA), at the 2’- or 7-position on paclitaxel (TXL, 1) through an ester, imine, amine, or amide bond. Newly synthesized conjugates were evaluated for cytotoxic activity against replication of several human tumor cell lines. Among them, TXL-CPT conjugates, 8–10, were more potent than TXL itself against the human prostate carcinoma cell line PC-3 (ED50 = 14.8, 3.1, 19.4 nM compared with 55.5 nM), and conjugate 10 was also eightfold more active than TXL against the LN-CAP prostate cancer cell line. These compounds also possessed anti-angiogenesis ability as well as lower inhibitory effects against a normal cell line (MRC-5). Thus, conjugates 8–10 are possible antitumor drug candidates, particularly for prostate cancer.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2007.02.051
PMCID: PMC1955431  PMID: 17350834
Paclitaxel; Conjugation; Cytotoxity; Prostate cancer
3.  Anionic linear-globular dendrimer-cis-platinum (II) conjugates promote cytotoxicity in vitro against different cancer cell lines 
Due to their unique properties, Anticancer dendrimer-based drugs have been displaying promising results in both in vitro and in vivo in the treatment of cancerous cells, as compared to the traditional polymers. In this report, two conjugates (G1+Pt and G2+Pt) of cisplatin [cis-diaminedichloroplatinum; (CDDP)] with two generations (G1, G2) of a biocompatible anionic dendrimer were prepared in an aqueous media. Their potential cytotoxic effects, in two sensitive cancer cell lines HT1080 and CT26 together with one resistant cancer cell line SKOV3, using MTT (methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium) assay were examined. Hemolytic impacts and cell death mechanisms of the conjugates on human blood and HT1080 cell line were also investigated. The conjugate G2+Pt showed greater toxicity up to 9× and 2× in the sensitive and resistant cell lines (IC50 comparison, inhibitory concentration) respectively when compared to the parent drug. The G1+Pt conjugate showed greater toxicity only in the sensitive HT1080 (2×) and CT26 (3.7×) cell lines. Moreover, the G1+Pt conjugate was less toxic approximately one third of the cisplatin in SKOV3 after 48 hrs of incubation. In summary, the G2+Pt conjugate had greater toxicity than the G1+Pt conjugate and cisplatin, based on the in vitro results. Approximately the same hemolysis behavior was observed for both conjugates and cisplatin. Both apoptosis and necrosis mechanisms (about 2× more than cisplatin) were attributed to conjugates and cisplatin in a direct correlation between the concentration and the degree of cell death. In conclusion, these conjugates with such high potency and minimum hemolysis would be suitable candidates for use against these cancerous cell lines as efficient and novel antitumor agents.
PMCID: PMC2819903  PMID: 20161988
cis-platinum (II); dendrimer; in vitro cytotoxicity; hemolysis; apoptosis-necrosis
4.  Novel anticancer polymeric conjugates of activated nucleoside analogs 
Bioconjugate chemistry  2011;22(10):1983-1993.
Inherent or therapy-induced drug resistance is a major clinical setback in cancer treatment. The extensive usage of cytotoxic nucleobases and nucleoside analogs in chemotherapy also results in the development of specific mechanisms of drug resistance; such as nucleoside transport or activation deficiencies. These drugs are prodrugs; and being converted into the active mono-, di- and triphosphates inside cancer cells following administration, they affect nucleic acid synthesis, nucleotide metabolism, or sensitivity to apoptosis. Previously, we have actively promoted the idea that the nanodelivery of active nucleotide species, e.g. 5′-triphosphates of nucleoside analogs, can enhance drug efficacy and reduce nonspecific toxicity. In this study we report the development of a novel type of drug nanoformulations, polymeric conjugates of nucleoside analogs, which are capable of the efficient transport and sustained release of phosphorylated drugs. These drug conjugates have been synthesized, starting from cholesterol-modified mucoadhesive polyvinyl alcohol or biodegradable dextrin, by covalent attachment of nucleoside analogs through a tetraphosphate linker. Association of cholesterol moieties in aqueous media resulted in intramolecular polymer folding and the formation of small nanogel particles containing 0.5 mmol/g of a 5′-phosphorylated nucleoside analog, e.g. 5-fluoro-2′-deoxyuridine (floxuridine, FdU), an active metabolite of anticancer drug 5-fluorouracyl (5-FU). The polymeric conjugates demonstrated rapid enzymatic release of floxuridine 5′-phosphate and much slower drug release under hydrolytic conditions (pH 1.0–7.4). Among the panel of cancer cell lines, all studied polymeric FdU-conjugates demonstrated an up to 50 times increased cytotoxicity in human prostate cancer PC-3, breast cancer MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells, and more than 100 times higher efficacy against cytarabine-resistant human T-lymphoma (CEM/araC/8) and gemcitabine-resistant follicular lymphoma (RL7/G) cells as compared to free drugs. In the initial in vivo screening, both PC-3 and RL7/G subcutaneous tumor xenograft models showed enhanced sensitivity to sustained drug release from polymeric FdU-conjugate after peritumoral injections and significant tumor growth inhibition. All these data demonstrate a remarkable clinical potential of novel polymeric conjugates of phosphorylated nucleoside analogs, especially as new therapeutic agents against drug-resistant tumors.
doi:10.1021/bc200173e
PMCID: PMC3200571  PMID: 21863885
5.  Structure-Dependent Inhibition of Bladder and Pancreatic Cancer Cell Growth by 2-Substituted Glycyrrhetinic and Ursolic Acid Derivatives 
Derivatives of oleanolic acid, ursolic acid and glycyrrhetinic acid substituted with electron withdrawing groups at the 2-position in the A-ring which also contains a 1-en-3-one structure are potent inhibitors of cancer cell growth. In this study, we have compared the effects of several 2-substituted analogs of triterpenoid acid methyl esters derived from ursolic and glycyrrhetinic acid on proliferation of KU7 and 253JB-V bladder and Panc-1 and Panc-28 pancreatic cancer cells. The results show that the 2-cyano and 2-trifluoromethyl derivatives were the most active compounds. The glycyrrhetinic acid derivatives with the rearranged C-ring containing the 9(11)-en-12-one structure were generally more active than the corresponding 12-en-11-one isomers. However, differences in growth inhibitory IC50 values were highly variable and dependent on the 2- substitutent (CN vs. CF3) and cancer cell context.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2008.03.031
PMCID: PMC2408873  PMID: 18359628
glycyrrhetinate analogs; growth inhibition; bladder cancer; pancreatic cancer
6.  Dexamethasone-poly(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate (pDMAEMA) conjugates reduce inflammatory biomarkers in human intestinal epithelial monolayers 
The mucoadhesive polymer, poly(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate (pDMAEMA) was synthesised by living radical polymerisation and subsequently conjugated by esterification to the anti-inflammatory corticosteroid, dexamethasone, to separately yield two concentrations of conjugates with ratios of 10:1 and 20:1 active:polymer. The hypothesis was to test whether the active agent maintained in vitro bioactivity when exposed to the apical side of human intestinal epithelial monolayers, Caco-2 and mucous-covered HT29-MTX-E12 (E12). HPLC analysis showed that 80% of the dexamethasone in both conjugates was attached to pDMAEMA. Similar to pDMAEMA, fluorescently-labelled dexamethasone-pDMAEMA conjugates were bioadhesive to Caco-2 and mucoadhesive to E12. Apical addition of conjugates suppressed mRNA expression of the inflammatory markers, NURR1 and ICAM-1 in E12 following stimulation by PGE2 and TNF-α, respectively. Conjugates also suppressed TNF-α stimulated cytokine secretion to the basolateral side of Caco-2 monolayers. pDMAEMA was inactive in these assays. Measurement of dexamethasone permeability from conjugates across monolayers suggested that conjugation reduced permeability compared to free dexamethasone. LDH assay indicated that conjugates were not cytotoxic to monolayers at high concentrations. Anti-inflammatory agents can therefore be successfully conjugated to polymers and they retain adhesion and bioactivity to enable formulation for topical administration.
doi:10.1016/j.jconrel.2008.12.001
PMCID: PMC4047761  PMID: 19110018
7.  Comparative Tumor Imaging and PDT Efficacy of HPPH Conjugated in the Mono- and Di-Forms to Various Polymethine Cyanine Dyes: Part - 2 
Theranostics  2013;3(9):703-718.
Previous reports from our laboratory have shown that a bifunctional agent obtained by conjugating a photosensitizer (HPPH) to a cyanine dye (CD) can be used for fluorescence image-guided treatment of tumor by photodynamic therapy (PDT). However, the resulting HPPH-CD conjugate showed a significant difference between the tumor-imaging and therapeutic doses. It was demonstrated that the singlet oxygen (1O2*, a key cytotoxic agent in PDT) produced by the conjugate upon excitation of the HPPH moiety was partially quenched by the CD-moiety; this resulted in a reduced PDT response when compared to HPPH-PDT under similar treatment parameters. To improve the therapeutic potential of the conjugate, we synthesized a series of dual functional agents in which one or two HPPH moieties were separately conjugated to three different dyes (Cypate, modified IR820 or modified IR783). The newly synthesized conjugates were compared with our lead compound HPPH-CD in terms of photophysical properties, in vitro and in vivo PDT efficacy, tumor uptake and imaging potential. Among the analogs investigated, the conjugate, in which two HPPH moieties were linked to the modified IR820 produced enhanced tumor uptake and tumor contrast in both Colon 26 (a murine Colon carcinoma) and U87 (a human glioblastoma) cell lines. The long-term PDT efficacy (cure) of this conjugate in BALB/c mice, bearing Colon 26 tumors was also enhanced; however, its efficacy in Nude mice bearing U87 tumors was slightly reduced. It was also found that in all the conjugates the singlet oxygen generation and, consequently, PDT efficacy were compromised by a competing pathway, whereby an electronic excitation of HPPH, the energy donor, is deactivated through an electronic excitation energy transfer (Forster Resonance Energy Transfer, FRET) to the CD fluorophore, the energy acceptor, resulting in overall reduction of the singlet oxygen production. Conjugates with increased FRET showed reduced singlet oxygen production and PDT efficacy. Among the conjugates investigated, the bifunctional agent in which two HPPH moieties were linked to the benzoindole-based cyanine dye 11 showed superiority over the lead candidate 9 (mono HPPH-cyanine dye).
doi:10.7150/thno.5923
PMCID: PMC3767117  PMID: 24019855
Photodynamic therapy, Fluorophores, Reactive Oxygen species; Imaging. Forster Resonance Energy Transfer.
8.  Lysosomal delivery of a lipophilic gemcitabine prodrug using novel acid-sensitive micelles improved its antitumor activity 
Bioconjugate chemistry  2012;23(5):966-980.
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 polyethylene 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 analog 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 a 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.
doi:10.1021/bc2005945
PMCID: PMC3419313  PMID: 22471294
9.  Dehydrozingerone, Chalcone, and Isoeugenol Analogs as In Vitro Anticancer Agents# 
Journal of natural products  2006;69(10):1445-1449.
Twenty-eight compounds related to dehydrozingerone (1), isoeugenol (3), and 2-hydroxychalcone (4) were synthesized and evaluated in vitro against human tumor cell replication. Except for isoeugenol analogs 27−35, most compounds exhibited moderate or strong cytotoxic activity against KB, KB-VCR (a multi-drug resistant derivative), and A549 cell lines. In particular, chalcone 15 showed significant cytotoxic activity against the A549 cell line with an IC50 value of 0.6 μg/mL. Furthermore, dehydrozingerone analog 11 and chalcones 16 and 17 showed significant and similar cytotoxic activity against both KB (IC50 values of 2.0, 1.0, and 2.0 μg/mL, respectively) and KB-VCR (IC50 values of 1.9, 1.0, and 2.0 μg/mL, respectively) cells, suggesting that they are not substrates for the p-glycoprotein drug efflux pump.
doi:10.1021/np060252z
PMCID: PMC2532514  PMID: 17067159
10.  Synthesis, characterization, and in vivo efficacy evaluation of PGG–docetaxel conjugate for potential cancer chemotherapy 
Aim
This work is intended to develop and evaluate a biopolymeric poly(L-γ-glutamylglutamine) (PGG)–docetaxel (DTX) conjugate that can spontaneously self-assemble in aqueous solutions to become nanoparticles.
Methods
DTX was covalently attached to hydrophilic PGG by direct esterification, and the conjugate was characterized by proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, molecular weight gel permeation chromatography, solubility, size distribution and morphology, and hemolysis. Conjugated DTX was found to have 2000 times improved water solubility compared with free DTX. Dynamic light scattering, transmission electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy revealed the particle size, distribution and morphology of the PGG–DTX conjugate. In addition, the conjugate was further tested for in vitro cytotoxicity and in vivo antitumor efficacy on the human non-small cell lung cancer cell line NCI-H460.
Results
Conjugated DTX was found to have 2000 times improved water solubility compared with free DTX. The conjugate formed nanoparticles with an average diameter of 30 nm in spherical shape and unimodal particle size distribution. The conjugate exhibited about 2% hemolysis at 10 mg/mL, compared with 56% for Tween 80® at 0.4 mg/mL, and 33% for Cremophor EL® at 10 mg/mL. In addition, the conjugate was further tested for in vitro cytotoxicity and in vivo antitumor efficacy on the human non-small cell lung cancer cell line NCI-H460. As expected, conjugated DTX exhibited lower cytotoxicity compared to that of free DTX, in concentration-dependent manner. However, PGG–DTX showed better antitumor activity in NCI-H460 lung cancer-bearing mice with minimal weight loss compared to that of free DTX.
Conclusion
The PGG–DTX conjugate may be considered as an attractive and promising polymeric DTX conjugate for non-small cell lung cancer treatment.
doi:10.2147/IJN.S26842
PMCID: PMC3278226  PMID: 22334784
polymer drug delivery; nanotechnology; nanotherapeutics; drug delivery; nanomedicine; pharmaceutics
11.  Unifying Mechanisms of Action of the Anticancer Activities of Triterpenoids and Synthetic Analogs 
Triterpenoids such as betulinic acid (BA) and synthetic analogs of oleanolic acid [2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9-dien-28-oic acid (CDDO)] and glycyrrhetinic acid [2-cyano-3,11-dioxo-18β-oleana-1,12-dien-30-oc acid (CDODA)] are potent anticancer agents that exhibit antiproliferative, antiangiogenic, anti-inflammatory and pro-apoptotic activities. Although their effects on multiple pathways have been reported, unifying mechanisms of action have not been reported. Studies in this laboratory have now demonstrated that several triterpenoids including BA and some derivatives, celastrol, methyl ursolatee, β-boswellic acid derivatives, and the synthetic analogs CDDO, CDODA and their esters decreased expression of specificity protein (Sp) transcription factors and several pro-oncogenic Sp-regulated genes in multiple cancer cell lines. The mechanisms of this response are both compound- and cell context-dependent and include activation of both proteasome-dependent and -independent pathways. Triterpenoid-mediated induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) has now been characterized as an important proteasome-independent pathway for downregulation of Sp transcription factors. ROS decreases expression of microRNA-27a (miR-27a) and miR-20a/miR-17-5p and this results in the induction of the transcriptional “Sp-repressors” ZBTB10 and ZBTB4, respectively, which in turn downregulate Sp and Sp-regulated genes. Triterpenoids also activate or deactive nuclear receptors and G-protein coupled receptors, and these pathways contribute to their antitumorigenic activity and may also play a role in targeting Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 which are highly overexpressed in multiple cancers and appear to be important for maintaining the cancer phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3532564  PMID: 22583404
Sp transcription factors; downregulation; reactive oxygen species
12.  Human Serum Albumin Conjugates of 7-Ethyl-10-hydroxycamptothecin (SN38) for Cancer Treatment 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:963507.
SN38 (7-ethyl-10-hydroxy-comptothecin) is a potent metabolite of irinotecan, which has been approved for treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer. Considering the notable potency of SN38, it has been introduced as an anticancer candidate. In this study, human serum albumin (HSA) conjugates of SN38 were formulated to overcome the solubility problem beside improving the active form stability and tumor tissue targeting. In this target, two different molar ratios of conjugates (SN38 : HSA 15 : 1 and 60 : 1) were prepared by derivatization of 20-hydroxyl group of SN38 with glycine, followed by addition of succinyl group to glycine through which HSA was covalently attached. The conjugates with particle size of about 100 nm revealed enhanced water solubility and were relatively stable in neutral and acidic solutions. For SN38-HSA-15 and SN38-HSA-60 IC50 values were compared with irinotecan in HT-29 human colon cancer cells. Furthermore, biodistribution studies of SN38-HSA conjugate resulted in proper blood concentration level within 4 h. Moreover, blood cytotoxicity assay revealed no toxicity effect on liver and spleen. Collectively, our present investigation offers a water-soluble form of SN38 attached to HSA and suggests using favorable properties as a promising anticancer agent for further preclinical and clinical investigations.
doi:10.1155/2014/963507
PMCID: PMC4033423  PMID: 24895635
13.  Synthesis and Proteasome Inhibition of Glycyrrhetinic Acid Derivatives 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2008;16(14):6696-6701.
This study discovered that glycyrrhetinic acid inhibited the human 20S proteasome at 22.3 µM. Esterification of the C-3 hydroxyl group on glycyrrhetinic acid with various carboxylic acid reagents yielded a series of analogs with marked improved potency. Among the derivatives, glycyrrhetinic acid 3-O-isophthalate (17) was the most potent compound with IC50 of 0.22 µM, which was approximately 100-fold more potent than glycyrrhetinic acid.
doi:10.1016/j.bmc.2008.05.078
PMCID: PMC2579312  PMID: 18562200
Glycyrrhetinic acid; proteasome inhibitor; triterpene
14.  Anticancer Conjugates and Cocktails Based on Methotrexate and Nucleoside Synergism 
Conjugates of methotrexate (MTX) and the nucleoside analogs 3-azidodeoxythymidine (AZT), iododeoxyuridine (IUdR) and dideoxycytidine (ddC) linked using poly(ethyleneglycol) are presented. In vitro cytotoxicity assays of the conjugates against drug resistant ovarian cell line A2780/AD are preformed and comparisons made to such assays performed for unconjugated (cocktail) systems. All systems tested were inactive, or had low activity, at 24 h. After 72 hr incubation however, the cocktails of MTX and AZT, IUdR or ddC showed high cytotoxicity in the low nanomolar range. The conjugates were only very moderately active with IC50 values in the [0.1 to 1.0 mM] range. Conjugation of the antifolate to the nucleoside analogs has it seems reduced the activity significantly when compared to a cocktail of the components, indicating a conjugate approach is unlikely to translate into success in vivo. The positive note comes from the observation that by combining two of the new conjugates, namely those based on MTX with IUdR or AZT, an IC50 at 24 hours of ~ [180 μM] was produced.
PMCID: PMC2872594  PMID: 20689607
nucleosides; folic acid; cocktail therapy; conjugates; PEG
15.  Targeting CD19 in B-cell lymphoma: emerging role of SAR3419 
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma symbolizes a heterogeneous group of diseases resulting from malignant transformation of lymphocytes with differing patterns of behavior and responses to treatment. The potential curability of non-Hodgkin lymphoma differs among the various histologic subtypes and is associated in part with the stage at presentation. CD19 antigen is a type I transmembrane glycoprotein belonging to the immunoglobulin Ig superfamily. CD19 is specifically expressed in normal and neoplastic B-cells. Recent study showed that in a mouse model, CD19 and c-Myc synergize functionally to accelerate B-cell lymphomagenesis, which is associated with increased disease severity. Specificity is the most important challenge in cancer therapeutics. Antibody–drug conjugates have the prospect of enhancing the therapeutic efficacy over unconjugated monoclonal antibodies through the selective delivery of cytotoxic agents to cancer cells. The ubiquitous expression of CD19 in these tumors, especially at an earlier stage and the property of efficient internalization, makes CD19 an attractive and affective target for antibody–drug conjugate therapy as compared to CD20. SAR3419 (huB4-DM4) is a novel antibody–drug conjugate that is composed of a humanized monoclonal IgG1 anti-CD19 antibody (huB4) attached to the potent cytotoxic drug, a maytansine derivative (DM4), through a cleavable disulfide cross-linking agent N-Succinimidyl-4-2-pyridyldithio butanoic acid (SPDB). The preclinical efficacy of maytansine derivative–anti-CD19 conjugate was demonstrated in our laboratory, and SAR3419 was found to be more effective than CHOP in a xenograft model. Phase I trials have also been conducted on the basis of preclinical studies that demonstrated promising antitumor activity with acceptable safety results in human B-cell lymphoma models. Additional trials are ongoing and will provide additional insight into the full potential of this novel drug.
doi:10.2147/CMAR.S45957
PMCID: PMC3767487  PMID: 24023523
lymphoma; SAR3419; antibody-drug conjugates (ADC); maytansinoids; microtubule inhibitors
16.  Increased paclitaxel cytotoxicity against cancer cell lines using a novel functionalized carbon nanotube 
Potential applications of carbon nanotubes have attracted many researchers in the field of drug delivery systems. In this study, multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) were first functionalized using hyperbranched poly citric acid (PCA) to improve their hydrophilicity and functionality. Then, paclitaxel (PTX), a potent anticancer agent, was conjugated to the carboxyl functional groups of poly citric acid via a cleavable ester bond to obtain a MWNT-g-PCA-PTX conjugate. Drug content of the conjugate was about 38% (w/w). The particle size of MWNT-g-PCA and MWNT-g-PCA-PTX was approximately 125 and 200 nm, respectively. Atomic force microscopy and transmission electron microscopy images showed a curved shape for MWNT-g-PCA and MWNT-g-PCA-PTX, which was in contrast with the straight or linear conformation expected from carbon nanotubes. It seems that the high hydrophilicity of poly citric acid and high hydrophobicity of MWNTs led to conformational changes from a linear state to a curved state. Paclitaxel can be released from the MWNT-g-PCA-PTX conjugates faster at pH 6.8 and 5.0 than at pH 7.4, which was suitable for the release of the drug in tumor tissues and tumor cells. In vitro cytotoxicity studies were evaluated in the A549 and SKOV3 cell lines. MWNT-g-PCA had an insignificant cytotoxic effect on both cell lines. MWNT-g-PCA-PTX had more of a cytotoxic effect than the free drug over a shorter incubation time (eg, 24 hours versus 48 hours), which suggests improved cell penetration of MWNT-g-PCA-PTX. Therefore, paclitaxel conjugated to MWNT-g-PCA is promising for cancer therapeutics.
doi:10.2147/IJN.S17336
PMCID: PMC3084317  PMID: 21556345
multiwalled carbon nanotubes; functionalization; anticancer; drug delivery; nanoparticles
17.  Glycyrrhetinic Acid-Poly(ethylene glycol)-glycyrrhetinic Acid Tri-Block Conjugates Based Self-Assembled Micelles for Hepatic Targeted Delivery of Poorly Water Soluble Drug 
The Scientific World Journal  2013;2013:913654.
The triblock 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid-poly(ethylene glycol)-18β-glycyrrhetinic acid conjugates (GA-PEG-GA) based self-assembled micelles were synthesized and characterized by FTIR, NMR, transmission electron microscopy, and particle size analysis. The GA-PEG-GA conjugates having the critical micelle concentration of 6 × 10−5 M were used to form nanosized micelles, with mean diameters of 159.21 ± 2.2 nm, and then paclitaxel (PTX) was incorporated into GA-PEG-GA micelles by self-assembly method. The physicochemical properties of the PTX loaded GA-PEG-GA micelles were evaluated including in vitro cellular uptake, cytotoxicity, drug release profile, and in vivo tissue distribution. The results demonstrate that the GA-PEG-GA micelles had low cytotoxicity and good ability of selectively delivering drug to hepatic cells in vitro and in vivo by the targeting moiety glycyrrhetinic acid. In conclusion, the GA-PEG-GA conjugates have potential medical applications for targeted delivery of poor soluble drug delivery.
doi:10.1155/2013/913654
PMCID: PMC3858885  PMID: 24376388
18.  Plant volatile eliciting FACs in lepidopteran caterpillars, fruit flies, and crickets: a convergent evolution or phylogenetic inheritance? 
Fatty acid amino acid conjugates (FACs), first identified in lepidopteran caterpillar spit as elicitors of plant volatile emission, also have been reported as major components in gut tracts of Drosophila melanogaster and cricket Teleogryllus taiwanemma. The profile of FAC analogs in these two insects was similar to that of tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta, showing glutamic acid conjugates predominantly over glutamine conjugates. The physiological function of FACs is presumably to enhance nitrogen assimilation in Spodoptera litura larvae, but in other insects it is totally unknown. Whether these insects share a common synthetic mechanism of FACs is also unclear. In this study, the biosynthesis of FACs was examined in vitro in five lepidopteran species (M. sexta, Cephonodes hylas, silkworm, S. litura, and Mythimna separata), fruit fly larvae and T. taiwanemma. The fresh midgut tissues of all of the tested insects showed the ability to synthesize glutamine conjugates in vitro when incubated with glutamine and sodium linolenate. Such direct conjugation was also observed for glutamic acid conjugates in all the insects but the product amount was very small and did not reflect the in vivo FAC patterns in each species. In fruit fly larvae, the predominance of glutamic acid conjugates could be explained by a shortage of substrate glutamine in midgut tissues, and in M. sexta, a rapid hydrolysis of glutamine conjugates has been reported. In crickets, we found an additional unique biosynthetic pathway for glutamic acid conjugates. T. taiwanemma converted glutamine conjugates to glutamic acid conjugates by deaminating the side chain of the glutamine moiety. Considering these findings together with previous results, a possibility that FACs in these insects are results of convergent evolution cannot be ruled out, but it is more likely that the ancestral insects had the glutamine conjugates and crickets and other insects developed glutamic acid conjugates in a different way.
doi:10.3389/fphys.2014.00121
PMCID: PMC3978339  PMID: 24744735
Lepidoptera; Drosophila melanogaster; Teleogryllus; Amino acids; Deamination; FACs
19.  The anticancer activity of lytic peptides is inhibited by heparan sulfate on the surface of the tumor cells 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:183.
Background
Cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAPs) with antitumor activity constitute a promising group of novel anticancer agents. These peptides induce lysis of cancer cells through interactions with the plasma membrane. It is not known which cancer cell membrane components influence their susceptibility to CAPs. We have previously shown that CAPs interact with the two glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), heparan sulfate (HS) and chondroitin sulfate (CS), which are present on the surface of most cells. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of the two GAGs in the cytotoxic activity of CAPs.
Methods
Various cell lines, expressing different levels of cell surface GAGs, were exposed to bovine lactoferricin (LfcinB) and the designer peptide, KW5. The cytotoxic effect of the peptides was investigated by use of the colorimetric MTT viability assay. The cytotoxic effect on wild type CHO cells, expressing normal amounts of GAGs on the cell surface, and the mutant pgsA-745, that has no expression of GAGs on the cell surface, was also investigated.
Results
We show that cells not expressing HS were more susceptible to CAPs than cells expressing HS at the cell surface. Further, exogenously added heparin inhibited the cytotoxic effect of the peptides. Chondroitin sulfate had no effect on the cytotoxic activity of KW5 and only minor effects on LfcinB cytotoxicity.
Conclusion
Our results show for the first time that negatively charged molecules at the surface of cancer cells inhibit the cytotoxic activity of CAPs. Our results indicate that HS at the surface of cancer cells sequesters CAPs away from the phospholipid bilayer and thereby impede their ability to induce cytolysis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-183
PMCID: PMC2703650  PMID: 19527490
20.  Ursolic acid inhibits the invasive phenotype of SNU-484 human gastric cancer cells 
Oncology Letters  2014;9(2):897-902.
Metastasis is a major cause of cancer-related mortality in patients with gastric cancer. Ursolic acid, a pentacyclic triterpenoid compound derived from medicinal herbs, has been demonstrated to exert anticancer effects in various cancer cell systems. However, to the best of our knowledge, the inhibitory effect of ursolic acid on the invasive phenotype of gastric cancer cells has yet to be reported. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of ursolic acid on the invasiveness of SNU-484 human gastric cancer cells. Ursolic acid efficiently induced apoptosis, possibly via the downregulation of B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2), the upregulation of Bcl-2-associated X protein and the proteolytic activation of caspase-3. Furthermore, the activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and c-Jun N-terminal kinase was increased by the administration of ursolic acid. In addition, ursolic acid significantly suppressed the invasive phenotype of the SNU-484 cells and significantly decreased the expression of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2, indicating that MMP-2 may be responsible for the anti-invasive activity of ursolic acid. Taken together, the results of the present study demonstrate that ursolic acid induces apoptosis and inhibits the invasive phenotype of gastric cancer cells; therefore, ursolic acid may have a potential application as a chemopreventive agent to prevent the metastasis of gastric cancer or to alleviate the process of metastasis.
doi:10.3892/ol.2014.2735
PMCID: PMC4301486  PMID: 25621065
ursolic acid; cell invasion; matrix metalloproteinase
21.  Folic Acid Conjugated δ-Valerolactone-Poly(ethylene glycol) Based Triblock Copolymer as a Promising Carrier for Targeted Doxorubicin Delivery 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70697.
The aim of this study is to test the hypothesis that the newly synthesized poly(δ-valerolactone)/poly(ethylene glycol)/poly(δ-valerolactone) (VEV) copolymer grafted with folic acid would impart targetability and further enhance the anti-tumor efficacy of doxorubicin (DOX). Here, folic acid conjugated VEV (VEV-FOL) was synthesized by a modified esterification method and characterized using IR and NMR. DOX loaded VEV-FOL micelles were synthesized using a novel solvent evaporation method and were obtained with a mean diameter of 97 nm with high encapsulation efficiency and sustained in vitro release profile. Comparative studies of polymer micelles with and without folate for cellular uptake and cytotoxicity were done on folate receptor-positive breast cancer cell line, MDAMB231. The intracellular uptake tests showed significant increase in folate micellar uptake when compared to non-folate-mediated micelles. MTT assay followed by apoptosis assays clearly indicated that folate decorated micelles showed significantly better cytotoxicity (IC50 = 0.014 µM) and efficiency to induce apoptosis than other treated groups. Moreover, a significant G2/M arrest was induced by DOX loaded VEV-FOL micelles at a concentration where free drug failed to show any activity. Thus, our results show that the folic acid-labeled VEV copolymer is a promising biomaterial with controlled and sustainable tumor targeting ability for anticancer drugs which can open new frontiers in the area of targeted chemotherapy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070697
PMCID: PMC3749165  PMID: 23990912
22.  Novel epithelial cell adhesion molecule antibody conjugated polyethyleneimine-capped gold nanoparticles for enhanced and targeted small interfering RNA delivery to retinoblastoma cells 
Molecular Vision  2013;19:1029-1038.
Background
Several nanoconjugates have been designed to deliver nucleic acids such as small interfering RNA (siRNA) and DNA to cells to study silencing and expression efficacies. In the present study, we prepared novel epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) monoclonal antibody conjugated polyethyleneimine (PEI) capped gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) loaded with EpCAM-specific siRNA molecules to knock-down the EpCAM gene in retinoblastoma (RB) cells. We chose EpCAM as a target moiety to deliver siRNA because this molecule is highly expressed in various epithelial cancers and is an ideal target as it is highly expressed in the apical surface of tumor cells while showing basolateral expression in normal cells.
Methods
The EpCAM antibody was conjugated to AuNP-PEI loaded with siRNA molecules to specifically deliver siRNA to EpCAM-expressing RB cells. Conjugation efficiencies were confirmed with ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometry, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and agarose and SDS–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The size and zeta potential were measured using a Zeta sizer analyzer. Nanoparticle internalization and uptake were studied using fluorescent microscopy and flow cytometry. Gene silencing efficacy was monitored with western blot analysis and real-time quantitative PCR.
Results
Optimal size and neutral zeta potential properties of the AuNP-PEI- EpCAM antibody (EpAb) antibody were achieved for the transfection studies. The AuNP-PEI nanoparticles did not show any cytotoxicity to the cells, which means these nanomaterials are suitable for intracellular delivery of siRNA for therapeutic interventions. With EpCAM antibody conjugation, PEI-capped AuNPs loaded with EpCAM siRNA were significantly internalized in the Y79 cells as observed with fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry and induced a highly significant reduction in the cell viability of the Y79 cells. Through increased binding of EpCAM antibody–conjugated AuNP-PEI nanoparticles, significant downregulation of EpCAM gene was observed in the Y79 cells when compared to the cells treated with the antibody-unconjugated AuNP-PEI nanoparticles.
Conclusions
Thus, a novel antibody conjugated nanocarrier designed to deliver siRNA holds promise as an effective gene therapy strategy for retinoblastoma in the near future. In addition to serving as an siRNA delivery tool for therapy, gold nanoparticles can also serve as imaging modality in diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3654846  PMID: 23687439
23.  Interaction of Natural Dietary and Herbal Anionic Compounds and Flavonoids with Human Organic Anion Transporters 1 (SLC22A6), 3 (SLC22A8), and 4 (SLC22A11) 
Active components of complementary/alternative medicines and natural supplements are often anionic compounds and flavonoids. As such, organic anion transporters (OATs) may play a key role in their pharmacokinetic and pharmacological profiles, and represent sites for adverse drug-drug interactions. Therefore, we assessed the inhibitory effects of nine natural products, including flavonoids (catechin and epicatechin), chlorogenic acids (1,3- and 1,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid), phenolic acids (ginkgolic acids (13 : 0), (15 : 1), and (17 : 1)), and the organic acids ursolic acid and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid, on the transport activity of the human OATs, hOAT1 (SLC22A6), hOAT3 (SLC22A8), and hOAT4 (SLC22A11). Four compounds, 1,3- and 1,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, ginkgolic acid (17 : 1), and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid, significantly inhibited hOAT1-mediated transport (50 μM inhibitor versus 1 μM substrate). Five compounds, 1,3- and 1,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, ginkgolic acids (15 : 1) and (17 : 1), and epicatechin, significantly inhibited hOAT3 transport under similar conditions. Only catechin inhibited hOAT4. Dose-dependency studies were conducted for 1,3-dicaffeoylquinic acid and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid on hOAT1, and IC50 values were estimated as 1.2 ± 0.4 μM and 2.7 ± 0.2 μM, respectively. These data suggest that 1,3-dicaffeoylquinic acid and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid may cause significant hOAT1-mediated DDIs in vivo; potential should be considered for safety issues during use and in future drug development.
doi:10.1155/2013/612527
PMCID: PMC3618943  PMID: 23573138
24.  Design, Synthesis, and In Vitro and In Vivo Biological Studies of a 3′-Deoxythymidine Conjugate that Potentially Kills Cancer Cells Selectively 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52199.
Thymidine kinases (TKs) have been considered one of the potential targets for anticancer therapeutic because of their elevated expressions in cancer cells. However, nucleobase analogs targeting TKs have shown poor selective cytotoxicity in cancer cells despite effective antiviral activity. 3′-Deoxythymidine phenylquinoxaline conjugate (dT-QX) was designed as a novel nucleobase analog to target TKs in cancer cells and block cell replication via conjugated DNA intercalating quinoxaline moiety. In vitro cell screening showed that dT-QX selectively kills a variety of cancer cells including liver carcinoma, breast adenocarcinoma and brain glioma cells; whereas it had a low cytotoxicity in normal cells such as normal human liver cells. The anticancer activity of dT-QX was attributed to its selective inhibition of DNA synthesis resulting in extensive mitochondrial superoxide stress in cancer cells. We demonstrate that covalent linkage with 3′-deoxythymidine uniquely directed cytotoxic phenylquinoxaline moiety more toward cancer cells than normal cells. Preliminary mouse study with subcutaneous liver tumor model showed that dT-QX effectively inhibited the growth of tumors. dT-QX is the first molecule of its kind with highly amendable constituents that exhibits this selective cytotoxicity in cancer cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052199
PMCID: PMC3530607  PMID: 23300611
25.  Amino acid-functionalized dendrimers with heterobifunctional chemoselective peripheral groups for drug delivery applications 
Biomacromolecules  2010;11(6):1544-1563.
Dendrimers have emerged as multifunctional carriers for targeted drug delivery, gene delivery and imaging. Improving the functional versatility at the surface for carrying multiple conjugation reactions is becoming vital. Typically, generation four polyamidoamine (G4-PAMAM) dendrimers bear ~64 symmetrical end groups, often requiring different spacers to conjugate various functional groups (drugs and targeting moieties), increasing the synthetic steps. In the present study, a simple one-step synthesis to convert each symmetrical end group of G4-PAMAM dendrimers into two reactive, distinct orthogonal and chemoselective groups is described. A near-complete end-capping of the dendrimers (87–93%) with amino acids results in heterobifunctional G4-PAMAM dendrimers bearing a very high (≥ 110) diverse peripheral end groups (OH+NHBoc, OH+COOMe, SH+NHBoc, and COOH+NHBoc). Postfunctionalization ability of these dendrimers was evaluated. The heterbifunctional groups at the dendrimer periphery could be chemoselectively conjugated to multiple moieties such as drugs (indomethacin and dexamethasone) and drugs and imaging agents (dexamethasone and FITC). These conjugations could be achieved in immediate succession without functional group conversions, eliminating the additional elaborate synthetic steps traditionally required to append specific linkers. Furthermore, one of the two functional handles at periphery was used to develop in situ forming hydrogels, whereas the other handle could be used for conjugating the drugs (e.g., dexamethasone). The heterobifunctional dendrimers with either “NH2 or SH (thiopyridyl protected form)” terminations showed in situ hydrogel formation by cross-linking with N-hydroxysuccinimide or thiol-terminated multiarm polyethylene glycol (20 kDa). The choice of amino acids as versatile linkers would enable biocompatible dendrimer scaffolds for use in drug delivery. ζ-potential measurements showed drastic lowering of the charge on G4-PAMAM-NH2 dendrimers by end-capping with amino acids, whereas in the case of neutral G4-PAMAM-OH dendrimers, the charge did not increase or decrease substantially. The in vitro cytotoxicity and hemolysis assay showed that the heterobifunctional dendrimers were noncytoxic in the 100 ng/mL to 1 mg/mL concentration range. With this study, we demonstrate the development of biocompatible dendrimers bearing multiple orthogonal surface groups, enabling the attachment of drugs, imaging agents, and gel formation using minimal synthetic steps.
doi:10.1021/bm100186b
PMCID: PMC3589517  PMID: 20415504

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