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1.  Boswellia sacra essential oil induces tumor cell-specific apoptosis and suppresses tumor aggressiveness in cultured human breast cancer cells 
Gum resins obtained from trees of the Burseraceae family (Boswellia sp.) are important ingredients in incense and perfumes. Extracts prepared from Boswellia sp. gum resins have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-neoplastic effects. Essential oil prepared by distillation of the gum resin traditionally used for aromatic therapy has also been shown to have tumor cell-specific anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities. The objective of this study was to optimize conditions for preparing Boswellea sacra essential oil with the highest biological activity in inducing tumor cell-specific cytotoxicity and suppressing aggressive tumor phenotypes in human breast cancer cells.
Boswellia sacra essential oil was prepared from Omani Hougari grade resins through hydrodistillation at 78 or 100 oC for 12 hours. Chemical compositions were identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry; and total boswellic acids contents were quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography. Boswellia sacra essential oil-mediated cell viability and death were studied in established human breast cancer cell lines (T47D, MCF7, MDA-MB-231) and an immortalized normal human breast cell line (MCF10-2A). Apoptosis was assayed by genomic DNA fragmentation. Anti-invasive and anti-multicellular tumor properties were evaluated by cellular network and spheroid formation models, respectively. Western blot analysis was performed to study Boswellia sacra essential oil-regulated proteins involved in apoptosis, signaling pathways, and cell cycle regulation.
More abundant high molecular weight compounds, including boswellic acids, were present in Boswellia sacra essential oil prepared at 100 oC hydrodistillation. All three human breast cancer cell lines were sensitive to essential oil treatment with reduced cell viability and elevated cell death, whereas the immortalized normal human breast cell line was more resistant to essential oil treatment. Boswellia sacra essential oil hydrodistilled at 100 oC was more potent than the essential oil prepared at 78 oC in inducing cancer cell death, preventing the cellular network formation (MDA-MB-231) cells on Matrigel, causing the breakdown of multicellular tumor spheroids (T47D cells), and regulating molecules involved in apoptosis, signal transduction, and cell cycle progression.
Similar to our previous observations in human bladder cancer cells, Boswellia sacra essential oil induces breast cancer cell-specific cytotoxicity. Suppression of cellular network formation and disruption of spheroid development of breast cancer cells by Boswellia sacra essential oil suggest that the essential oil may be effective for advanced breast cancer. Consistently, the essential oil represses signaling pathways and cell cycle regulators that have been proposed as therapeutic targets for breast cancer. Future pre-clinical and clinical studies are urgently needed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Boswellia sacra essential oil as a therapeutic agent for treating breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3258268  PMID: 22171782
2.  Urine and Serum Analysis of Consumed Curcuminoids Using an IκB-Luciferase Surrogate Marker Assay 
In vivo (Athens, Greece)  2010;24(6):861-864.
Curcumin metabolites are detectable in body fluids such as serum and urine. We have developed a novel assay that can detect metabolites in such body fluids by measuring their effect on the nuclear factor kappa B/inhibitor of kappa B (NF-κB/IκB) pathway.
Patients and Methods
Fifteen healthy individuals were enrolled in the study and randomly assigned to two groups: control group (five) and curcumin group (ten). The test group ingested 8 g of the curcuminoids (C3-Complex™) with 16 oz of bottled water. Blood and urine were collected at 0, 4, 8, and 24 h after ingestion. Degradation of the NF-κB/IκB complex was detected by the Genetic Expression and Measurement (GEM™) assay using HCT116 cells stably transfected with PGL3-IκB firefly luciferase.
Using our novel GEM assay, the five controls who had not taken curcumin were identified.
The GEM assay is a very sensitive and accurate non-invasive assay that could be utilized to detect metabolites in body fluids. It could also serve as a tool to determine participants’ compliance during clinical research studies.
PMCID: PMC3050505  PMID: 21164045
Curcumin; clinical trial; urinalysis; GEM assay
3.  Nanoparticle-based delivery of siDCAMKL-1 increases microRNA-144 and inhibits colorectal cancer tumor growth via a Notch-1 dependent mechanism 
The development of effective drug delivery systems capable of transporting small interfering RNA (siRNA) has been elusive. We have previously reported that colorectal cancer tumor xenograft growth was arrested following treatment with liposomal preparation of siDCAMKL-1. In this report, we have utilized Nanoparticle (NP) technology to deliver DCAMKL-1 specific siRNA to knockdown potential key cancer regulators. In this study, mRNA/miRNA were analyzed using real-time RT-PCR and protein by western blot/immunohistochemistry. siDCAMKL-1 was encapsulated in Poly(lactide-co-glycolide)-based NPs (NP-siDCAMKL-1); Tumor xenografts were generated in nude mice, treated with NP-siDCAMKL-1 and DAPT (γ-secretase inhibitor) alone and in combination. To measure let-7a and miR-144 expression in vitro, HCT116 cells were transfected with plasmids encoding the firefly luciferase gene with let-7a and miR-144 miRNA binding sites in the 3'UTR.
Administration of NP-siDCAMKL-1 into HCT116 xenografts resulted in tumor growth arrest, downregulation of proto-oncogene c-Myc and Notch-1 via let-7a and miR-144 miRNA-dependent mechanisms, respectively. A corresponding reduction in let-7a and miR-144 specific luciferase activity was observed in vitro. Moreover, an upregulation of EMT inhibitor miR-200a and downregulation of the EMT-associated transcription factors ZEB1, ZEB2, Snail and Slug were observed in vivo. Lastly, DAPT-mediated inhibition of Notch-1 resulted in HCT116 tumor growth arrest and down regulation of Notch-1 via a miR-144 dependent mechanism.
These findings demonstrate that nanoparticle-based delivery of siRNAs directed at critical targets such as DCAMKL-1 may provide a novel approach to treat cancer through the regulation of endogenous miRNAs.
PMCID: PMC3200989  PMID: 21929751
DCAMKL-1; miR-144; microRNA; siRNA; notch signaling; nanoparticles; HCT116; tumor xenograft; cancer stem cells
4.  The incorporation of poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid nanoparticles into porcine small intestinal submucosa biomaterials 
Biomaterials  2008;29(9):1159-1166.
Small intestinal submucosa (SIS) derived from porcine small intestine has been intensively studied for its capacity in repairing and regenerating wounded and dysfunctional tissues. However, SIS suffers from a large spectrum of heterogeneity in microarchitecture leading to inconsistent results. In this study, we introduced nanoparticles (NPs) to SIS with an intention of decreasing the heterogeneity and improving the consistency of this biomaterial. As determined by scanning electron microscopy and urea permeability, the optimum NP size was estimated to be between 200 nm and 500 nm using commercial monodisperse latex spheres. The concentration of NPs that is required to alter pore sizes of SIS as determined by urea permeability was estimated to be 1 mg/ml 260 nm poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid (PLGA) NPs. The 1 mg/ml PLGA NPs loaded in the SIS did not change the tensile properties of the unmodified SIS or even alter pH values in a cell culture environment. More importantly, PLGA NP modified SIS did not affect human mammary endothelial cells (HMEC-1) morphology or adhesion, but actually enhanced HEMC-1 cell growth.
PMCID: PMC2947939  PMID: 18076986
Scaffold; Small intestinal submucosa; Porosity; Nanoparticle; Biocompatibility
5.  Inhibition of angiogenesis- and inflammation-inducing factors in human colon cancer cells in vitro and in ovo by free and nanoparticle-encapsulated redox dye, DCPIP 
The redox dye, DCPIP, has recently shown to exhibit anti-melanoma activity in vitro and in vivo. On the other hand, there is increasing evidence that synthetic nanoparticles can serve as highly efficient carriers of drugs and vaccines for treatment of various diseases. These nanoparticles have shown to serve as potent tools that can increase the bioavailability of the drug/vaccine by facilitating absorption or conferring sustained and improved release. Here, we describe results on the effects of free- and nanoparticle-enclosed DCPIP as anti-angiogenesis and anti-inflammation agents in a human colon cancer HCT116 cell line in vitro, and in induced angiogenesis in ovo.
The studies described in this report indicate that (a) DCPIP inhibits proliferation of HCT116 cells in vitro; (b) DCPIP can selectively downregulate expression of the pro-angiogenesis growth factor, VEGF; (c) DCPIP inhibits activation of the transcriptional nuclear factor, NF-κB; (d) DCPIP can attenuate or completely inhibit VEGF-induced angiogenesis in the chick chorioallantoic membrane; (e) DCPIP at concentrations higher than 6 μg/ml induces apoptosis in HCT116 cells as confirmed by detection of caspase-3 and PARP degradation; and (f) DCPIP encapsulated in nanoparticles is equally or more effective than free DCPIP in exhibiting the aforementioned properties (a-e) in addition to reducing the expression of COX-2, and pro-inflammatory proteins IL-6 and IL-8.
We propose that, DCPIP may serve as a potent tool to prevent or disrupt the processes of cell proliferation, tissue angiogenesis and inflammation by directly or indirectly targeting expression of specific cellular factors. We also propose that the activities of DCPIP may be long-lasting and/or enhanced if it is delivered enclosed in specific nanoparticles.
PMCID: PMC2911398  PMID: 20633276
6.  Magnetic characterization of superparamagnetic nanoparticles pulled through model membranes 
To quantitatively compare in-vitro and in vivo membrane transport studies of targeted delivery, one needs characterization of the magnetically-induced mobility of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION). Flux densities, gradients, and nanoparticle properties were measured in order to quantify the magnetic force on the SPION in both an artificial cochlear round window membrane (RWM) model and the guinea pig RWM.
Three-dimensional maps were created for flux density and magnetic gradient produced by a 24-well casing of 4.1 kilo-Gauss neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) disc magnets. The casing was used to pull SPION through a three-layer cell culture RWM model. Similar maps were created for a 4 inch (10.16 cm) cube 48 MGOe NdFeB magnet used to pull polymeric-nanoparticles through the RWM of anesthetized guinea pigs. Other parameters needed to compute magnetic force were nanoparticle and polymer properties, including average radius, density, magnetic susceptibility, and volume fraction of magnetite.
A minimum force of 5.04 × 10-16 N was determined to adequately pull nanoparticles through the in-vitro model. For the guinea pig RWM, the magnetic force on the polymeric nanoparticles was 9.69 × 10-20 N. Electron microscopy confirmed the movement of the particles through both RWM models.
As prospective carriers of therapeutic substances, polymers containing superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles were succesfully pulled through the live RWM. The force required to achieve in vivo transport was significantly lower than that required to pull nanoparticles through the in-vitro RWM model. Indeed very little force was required to accomplish measurable delivery of polymeric-SPION composite nanoparticles across the RWM, suggesting that therapeutic delivery to the inner ear by SPION is feasible.
PMCID: PMC1785374  PMID: 17204157
7.  The permeability of SPION over an artificial three-layer membrane is enhanced by external magnetic field 
Sensorineural hearing loss, a subset of all clinical hearing loss, may be correctable through the use of gene therapy. We are testing a delivery system of therapeutics through a 3 cell-layer round window membrane model (RWM model) that may provide an entry of drugs or genes to the inner ear. We designed an in vitro RWM model similar to the RWM (will be referred to throughout the paper as RWM model) to determine the feasibility of using superparamagnetic iron oxide (Fe3O4) nanoparticles (SPION) for targeted delivery of therapeutics to the inner ear.
The RWM model is a 3 cell-layer model with epithelial cells cultured on both sides of a small intestinal submucosal (SIS) matrix and fibroblasts seeded in between. Dextran encapsulated nanoparticle clusters 130 nm in diameter were pulled through the RWM model using permanent magnets with flux density 0.410 Tesla at the pole face. The SIS membranes were harvested at day 7 and then fixed in 4% paraformaldehyde. Transmission electron microscopy and fluorescence spectrophotometry were used to verify transepithelial transport of the SPION across the cell-culture model. Histological sections were examined for evidence of SPION toxicity, as well to generate a timeline of the position of the SPION at different times. SPION also were added to cells in culture to assess in vitro toxicity.
Transepithelial electrical resistance measurements confirmed epithelial confluence, as SPION crossed a membrane consisting of three co-cultured layers of cells, under the influence of a magnetic field. Micrographs showed SPION distributed throughout the membrane model, in between cell layers, and sometimes on the surface of cells. TEM verified that the SPION were pulled through the membrane into the culture well below. Fluorescence spectrophotometry quantified the number of SPION that went through the SIS membrane. SPION showed no toxicity to cells in culture.
A three-cell layer model of the human round window membrane has been constructed. SPION have been magnetically transported through this model, allowing quantitative evaluation of prospective targeted drug or gene delivery through the RWM. Putative in vivo carrier superparamagnetic nanoparticles may be evaluated using this model.
PMCID: PMC1475881  PMID: 16603066

Results 1-7 (7)