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1.  Novel tumor-targeting, self-assembling peptide nanofiber as a carrier for effective curcumin delivery 
The poor aqueous solubility and low bioavailability of curcumin restrict its clinical application for cancer treatment. In this study, a novel tumor-targeting nanofiber carrier was developed to improve the solubility and tumor-targeting ability of curcumin using a self-assembled Nap-GFFYG-RGD peptide. The morphologies of the peptide nanofiber and the curcumin-encapsulated nanofiber were visualized by transmission electron microscopy. The tumor-targeting activity of the curcumin-encapsulated Nap-GFFYG-RGD peptide nanofiber (f-RGD-Cur) was studied in vitro and in vivo, using Nap-GFFYG-RGE peptide nanofiber (f-RGE-Cur) as the control. Curcumin was encapsulated into the peptide nanofiber, which had a diameter of approximately 10–20 nm. Curcumin showed sustained-release behavior from the nanofibers in vitro. f-RGD-Cur showed much higher cellular uptake in αvβ3 integrin-positive HepG2 liver carcinoma cells than did non-targeted f-RGE-Cur, thereby leading to significantly higher cytotoxicity. Ex vivo studies further demonstrated that curcumin could accumulate markedly in mouse tumors after administration of f-RGD-Cur via the tail vein. These results indicate that Nap-GFFYG-RGD peptide self-assembled nanofibers are a promising hydrophobic drug delivery system for targeted treatment of cancer.
PMCID: PMC3875522  PMID: 24399876
nanofiber; tumor-targeting; self-assembling; curcumin; drug delivery
2.  A sandwich-type DNA electrochemical biosensor for hairpin-stem-loop structure based on multistep temperature-controlling method 
A highly sensitive and selective method for amplified electrochemical detection for hairpin-stem-loop structured target sequences was developed based on the temperature regulation of DNA hybrids on a sandwich-type electrochemical DNA sensor. Multistep hybridization was applied to promote the hybridization efficiency of each section of sandwich structure. The results showed that both multistep and temperature-controlling hybridization techniques were both especially made to fabricate the sensor for the tendency of internal hybridization of target gene sequences. This strategy provides significantly enhanced hybridization efficiency and sequence specificity of electrochemical detection.
PMCID: PMC3446862  PMID: 23028223
sandwich-type biosensor; structured target; multistep temperature-controlling; DNA hybridization; tubercle bacillus
3.  A pH-sensitive multifunctional gene carrier assembled via layer-by-layer technique for efficient gene delivery 
The success of gene therapy asks for the development of multifunctional vectors that could overcome various gene delivery barriers, such as the cell membrane, endosomal membrane, and nuclear membrane. Layer-by-layer technique is an efficient method with easy operation which can be used for the assembly of multifunctional gene carriers. This work describes a pH-sensitive multifunctional gene vector that offered long circulation property but avoided the inhibition of tumor cellular uptake of gene carriers associated with the use of polyethylene glycol.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was firstly condensed with protamine into a cationic core which was used as assembly template. Then, additional layers of anionic DNA, cationic liposomes, and o-carboxymethyl-chitosan (CMCS) were alternately adsorbed onto the template via layer-by-layer technique and finally the multifunctional vector called CMCS-cationic liposome-coated DNA/protamine/DNA complexes (CLDPD) was constructed. For in vitro test, the cytotoxicity and transfection investigation was carried out on HepG2 cell line. For in vivo evaluation, CMCS-CLDPD was intratumorally injected into tumor-bearing mice and the tumor cells were isolated for fluorescence determination of transfection efficiency.
CMCS-CLDPD had ellipsoidal shapes and showed “core-shell” structure which showed stabilization property in serum and effective protection of DNA from nuclease degradation. In vitro and in vivo transfection results demonstrated that CMCS-CLDPD had pH-sensitivity and the outermost layer of CMCS fell off in the tumor tissue, which could not only protect CMCS- CLDPD from serum interaction but also enhance gene transfection efficiency.
These results demonstrated that multifunctional CMCS-CLDPD had pH- sensitivity, which may provide a new approach for the antitumor gene delivery.
PMCID: PMC3289447  PMID: 22393290
layer-by-layer; multifunctional nanovector; pH-sensitivity; gene delivery
4.  Coupling technique of random amplified polymorphic DNA and nanoelectrochemical sensor for mapping pancreatic cancer genetic fingerprint 
To review the feasibility of coupling the techniques of random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) with carbon nanotube-based modified electrode for guanine/deoxyguanine triphosphate (dGTP) electrochemical sensing for mapping of the pancreatic cancer genetic fingerprint and screening of genetic alterations.
We developed a new method to study the electrochemical behavior of dGTP utilizing carbon multiwalled nanotube (MWNT)-modified glassy carbon electrodes (GCEs). RAPD was applied for amplification of DNA samples from healthy controls and patients with pancreatic cancer under the same conditions to determine the different surplus quantity of dGTP in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), thereby determining the difference/quantity of PCR products or template strands. Using this method we generated a genetic fingerprint map of pancreatic cancer through the combination of electrochemical sensors and gel electrophoresis to screen for genetic alterations. Cloning and sequencing were then performed to verify these gene alterations.
dGTP showed favorable electrochemical behavior on the MWNTs/GCE. The results indicated that the electrical signal and dGTP had a satisfactory linear relationship with the dGTP concentration within the conventional PCR concentration range. The MWNTs/GCE could distinguish between different products of RAPD. This experiment successfully identified a new pancreatic cancer-associated mutant gene fragment, consisting of a cyclin-dependent kinase 4 gene 3′ terminal mutation.
The coupling of RAPD and nanoelectrochemical sensors was successfully applied to the screening of genetic alterations in pancreatic cancer and for mapping of DNA fingerprints.
PMCID: PMC3230562  PMID: 22162652
nanoelectrochemical sensor; random amplified polymorphic DNA; genetic fingerprint; pancreatic cancer; genetic predisposition; carbon nanotube
5.  Pharmacokinetics of ligustrazine ethosome patch in rats and anti-myocardial ischemia and anti-ischemic reperfusion injury effect 
The objective of this study was to investigate the pharmacokinetics of the ligustrazine ethosome patch and antimyocardial ischemia and anti-ischemic reperfusion injury effect. Male Sprague Dawley rats were divided randomly into 3 groups: Group A (intragastric ligustrazine), Group B (transdermal ligustrazine ethosome patch), and Group C (conventional transdermal ligustrazine patch). After treatment, samples of blood and of various tissues such as heart, liver, spleen, lung, kidney, brain, and muscle samples were taken at different time points. Drug concentration was measured with HPLC, and the drug concentration–time curve was plotted. Pharmacokinetic software 3p97 was applied to calculate pharmacokinetic parameters and the area under the drug concentration–time curve (AUC) in various tissues. The rat model of acute myocardial ischemia was constructed with intravenous injection of pituitrin and the model of myocardial ischemia-perfusion injury was constructed by tying off the left anterior descending coronary artery of rats to observe the effect of ligustrazine ethosome patches on ischemic myocardium and ischemia-reperfusion injury. Results showed that AUC was highest in the transdermal drug delivery group of ligustrazine ethosome patch. There were significant differences in whole blood viscosity, plasma viscosity, hematocrit, red blood cell aggregation index, and deformation index between ligustrazine the ethosome patch group and ischemic control group (P < 0.01). Moreover, ligustrazine ethosome patches could reduce the scope of myocardial infarction induced by long-term ischemia. Ligustrazine ethosome patches have a sustained-release property. They can maintain stable and sustained blood drug concentration, increase bioavailability, and reduce administration times. The drug patch can decrease hemorheological indices of myocardial ischemia in rats, as well as protect acute ischemic myocardium and ischemia-reperfusion injured myocardium.
PMCID: PMC3133529  PMID: 21760733
ligustrazine; ethosome; patch; pharmacokinetics; myocardial ischemia; ischemia- reperfusion injury
6.  Preparation of a ligustrazine ethosome patch and its evaluation in vitro and in vivo 
The purpose of this study was to develop a transdermal ligustrazine patch containing a stable formulation and with good entrapment efficiency, release rate, and transdermal absorption.
Ligustrazine ethosomes were prepared by ethanol injection-sonication, with entrapment efficiency as an indicator. Using acrylic resin as the primary constituent, the ligustrazine ethosome patch was prepared by adding succinic acid as a crosslinking agent and triethyl citrate as a plasticizer. In vitro release and transdermal permeation studies were carried out. Finally, a pharmacokinetic study was carried out in rats to explore relative bioavailability. The formulations of ligustrazine ethosome were 1% (w/v) phospholipid, 0.4% (w/v) cholesterol, and 45% (v/v) ethanol.
Ligustrazine ethosomes were obtained with an average particle size of 78.71 ± 1.23 nm and an average entrapment efficiency of 86.42% ± 1.50%. In vitro transdermal testing of the ligustrazine ethosome patches showed that the cumulative 24-hour amount of ligustrazine was up to 183 ± 18 μg/cm2. The pharmacokinetic results revealed that the relative bioavailability was 209.45%.
Compared with conventional ligustrazine administration, ligustrazine ethosome patches could promote better drug absorption and increase bioavailability. This study demonstrates that the transdermal action of the ligustrazine ethosome patch was comparatively good.
PMCID: PMC3075898  PMID: 21499422
ligustrazine; ethosomes; patch
7.  Coupling of a bifunctional peptide R13 to OTMCS-PEI copolymer as a gene vector increases transfection efficiency and tumor targeting 
A degradable polyethylenimine (PEI) derivative coupled to a bifunctional peptide R13 was developed to solve the transfection efficiency versus cytotoxicity and tumor-targeting problems of PEI when used as a gene vector.
We crossed-linked low molecular weight PEI with N-octyl-N-quaternary chitosan (OTMCS) to synthesize a degradable PEI derivative (OTMCS-PEI), and then used a bifunctional peptide, RGDC-TAT (49–57) called R13 to modify OTMCS-PEI so as to prepare a new gene vector, OTMCS-PEI-R13. This new gene vector was characterized by various physicochemical methods. Its cytotoxicity and gene transfection efficiency were also determined both in vitro and in vivo.
The vector showed controlled degradation and excellent buffering capacity. The particle size of the OTMCS-PEI-R13/DNA complexes was around 150–250 nm and the zeta potential ranged from 10 mV to 30 mV. The polymer could protect plasmid DNA from being digested by DNase I at a concentration of 23.5 U DNase I/μg DNA. Further, the polymer was resistant to dissociation induced by 50% fetal bovine serum and 400 μg/mL sodium heparin. Compared with PEI 25 kDa, the OTMCS-PEI-R13/DNA complexes showed higher transfection efficiency both in vitro and in vivo. Further, compared with OTMCS-PEI, distribution of OTMCS-PEI-R13 at tumor sites was markedly enhanced, indicating the tumor-targeting specificity of R13.
OTMCS-PEI-R13 could be a potential candidate as a safe and efficient gene delivery carrier for gene therapy.
PMCID: PMC3956686  PMID: 24648730
nonviral gene vector; polyethylenimine; R13; transfection efficiency; tumor-targeting
8.  Carbon nanotubes as VEGF carriers to improve the early vascularization of porcine small intestinal submucosa in abdominal wall defect repair 
Insufficient early vascularization in biological meshes, resulting in limited host tissue incorporation, is thought to be the primary cause for the failure of abdominal wall defect repair after implantation. The sustained release of exogenous angiogenic factors from a biocompatible nanomaterial might be a way to overcome this limitation. In the study reported here, multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNT) were functionalized by plasma polymerization to deliver vascular endothelial growth factor165 (VEGF165). The novel VEGF165-controlled released system was incorporated into porcine small intestinal submucosa (PSIS) to construct a composite scaffold. Scaffolds incorporating varying amounts of VEGF165-loaded functionalized MWNT were characterized in vitro. At 5 weight percent MWNT, the scaffolds exhibited optimal properties and were implanted in rats to repair abdominal wall defects. PSIS scaffolds incorporating VEGF165-loaded MWNT (VEGF–MWNT–PSIS) contributed to early vascularization from 2–12 weeks postimplantation and obtained more effective collagen deposition and exhibited improved tensile strength at 24 weeks postimplantation compared to PSIS or PSIS scaffolds, incorporating MWNT without VEGF165 loading (MWNT–PSIS).
PMCID: PMC3956480  PMID: 24648727
vascular endothelial growth factor165; controlled release; multi-walled carbon nanotube; early vascularization
9.  An efficient nonviral gene-delivery vector based on hyperbranched cationic glycogen derivatives 
The purpose of this study was to synthesize and evaluate hyperbranched cationic glycogen derivatives as an efficient nonviral gene-delivery vector.
A series of hyperbranched cationic glycogen derivatives conjugated with 3-(dimethylamino)-1-propylamine (DMAPA-Glyp) and 1-(2-aminoethyl) piperazine (AEPZ-Glyp) residues were synthesized and characterized by Fourier-transform infrared and hydrogen-1 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Their buffer capacity was assessed by acid–base titration in aqueous NaCl solution. Plasmid deoxyribonucleic acid (pDNA) condensation ability and protection against DNase I degradation of the glycogen derivatives were assessed using agarose gel electrophoresis. The zeta potentials and particle sizes of the glycogen derivative/pDNA complexes were measured, and the images of the complexes were observed using atomic force microscopy. Blood compatibility and cytotoxicity were evaluated by hemolysis assay and MTT (3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide) assay, respectively. pDNA transfection efficiency mediated by the cationic glycogen derivatives was evaluated by flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy in the 293T (human embryonic kidney) and the CNE2 (human nasopharyngeal carcinoma) cell lines. In vivo delivery of pDNA in model animals (Sprague Dawley rats) was evaluated to identify the safety and transfection efficiency.
The hyperbranched cationic glycogen derivatives conjugated with DMAPA and AEPZ residues were synthesized. They exhibited better blood compatibility and lower cytotoxicity when compared to branched polyethyleneimine (bPEI). They were able to bind and condense pDNA to form the complexes of 100–250 nm in size. The transfection efficiency of the DMAPA-Glyp/pDNA complexes was higher than those of the AEPZ-Glyp/pDNA complexes in both the 293T and CNE2 cells, and almost equal to those of bPEI. Furthermore, pDNA could be more safely delivered to the blood vessels in brain tissue of Sprague Dawley rats by the DMAPA-Glyp derivatives, and then expressed as green fluorescence protein, compared with the control group.
The hyperbranched cationic glycogen derivatives, especially the DMAPA-Glyp derivatives, showed high gene-transfection efficiency, good blood compatibility, and low cyto toxicity when transfected in vitro and in vivo, which are novel potential nonviral gene vectors.
PMCID: PMC3917921  PMID: 24520193
glycogen; blood compatibility; cytotoxicity; gene delivery
10.  Effects of Caryota mitis profilin-loaded PLGA nanoparticles in a murine model of allergic asthma 
Pollen allergy is the most common allergic disease. However, tropical pollens, such as those of Palmae, have seldom been investigated compared with the specific immunotherapy studies done on hyperallergenic birch, olive, and ragweed pollens. Although poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) has been extensively applied as a biodegradable polymer in medical devices, it has rarely been utilized as a vaccine adjuvant to prevent and treat allergic disease. In this study, we investigated the immunotherapeutic effects of recombinant Caryota mitis profilin (rCmP)-loaded PLGA nanoparticles and the underlying mechanisms involved.
A mouse model of allergenic asthma was established for specific immunotherapy using rCmP-loaded PLGA nanoparticles as the adjuvant. The model was evaluated by determining airway hyperresponsiveness and levels of serum-specific antibodies (IgE, IgG, and IgG2a) and cytokines, and observing histologic sections of lung tissue.
The rCmP-loaded PLGA nanoparticles effectively inhibited generation of specific IgE and secretion of the Th2 cytokine interleukin-4, facilitated generation of specific IgG2a and secretion of the Th1 cytokine interferon-gamma, converted the Th2 response to Th1, and evidently alleviated allergic symptoms.
PLGA functions more appropriately as a specific immunotherapy adjuvant for allergen vaccines than does conventional Al(OH)3 due to its superior efficacy, longer potency, and markedly fewer side effects. The rCmP-loaded PLGA nanoparticles developed herein offer a promising avenue for specific immunotherapy in allergic asthma.
PMCID: PMC3843607  PMID: 24376349
nanoparticles; Caryota mitis profilin; PLGA; allergic asthma; adjuvant
11.  The impact of PEGylation patterns on the in vivo biodistribution of mixed shell micelles 
Polyethylene glycol (PEG)-ylation is a widely used strategy to fabricate nanocarriers with a long blood circulation time. Further elaboration of the contribution of the surface PEGylation pattern to biodistribution is highly desirable. We fabricated a series of polyion complex (PIC) micelles PEGylated with different ratios (PEG2k and PEG550). The plasma protein adsorption, murine macrophage uptake, and in vivo biodistribution with iodine-125 as the tracer were systematically studied to elucidate the impact of PEGylation patterns on the biodistribution of micelles. We demonstrated that the PEGylated micelles with short hydrophilic PEG chains mixed on the surface were cleared quickly by the reticuloendothelial system (RES), and the single PEG2k PEGylated micelles could efficiently prolong the blood circulation time and increase their deposition in tumor sites. The present study extends the understanding of the PEGylation strategy to further advance the development of ideal nanocarriers for drug delivery and imaging applications.
PMCID: PMC3825670  PMID: 24235825
drug delivery; PEGylation; mixed shell micelles; macrophage uptake; in vivo biodistribution
12.  Multinucleation and cell dysfunction induced by amorphous silica nanoparticles in an L-02 human hepatic cell line 
Silica nanoparticles (SNPs) are one of the most important nanomaterials, and have been widely used in a variety of fields. Therefore, their effects on human health and the environment have been addressed in a number of studies. In this work, the effects of amorphous SNPs were investigated with regard to multinucleation in L-02 human hepatic cells. Our results show that L-02 cells had an abnormally high incidence of multinucleation upon exposure to silica, that increased in a dose-dependent manner. Propidium iodide staining showed that multinucleated cells were arrested in G2/M phase of the cell cycle. Increased multinucleation in L-02 cells was associated with increased generation of cellular reactive oxygen species and mitochondrial damage on flow cytometry and confocal microscopy, which might have led to failure of cytokinesis in these cells. Further, SNPs inhibited cell growth and induced apoptosis in exposed cells. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that multinucleation in L-02 human hepatic cells might be a failure to undergo cytokinesis or cell fusion in response to SNPs, and the increase in cellular reactive oxygen species could be responsible for the apoptosis seen in both mononuclear cells and multinucleated cells.
PMCID: PMC3787934  PMID: 24092974
silica nanoparticles; human hepatic cell L-02; multinucleation; cell cycle; cell dysfunction; apoptosis
13.  Using poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) microspheres to encapsulate plasmid of bone morphogenetic protein 2/polyethylenimine nanoparticles to promote bone formation in vitro and in vivo 
Repair of large bone defects is a major challenge, requiring sustained stimulation to continually promote bone formation locally. Bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2) plays an important role in bone development. In an attempt to overcome this difficulty of bone repair, we created a delivery system to slowly release human BMP-2 cDNA plasmid locally, efficiently transfecting local target cells and secreting functional human BMP-2 protein. For transfection, we used polyethylenimine (PEI) to create pBMP-2/PEI nanoparticles, and to ensure slow release we used poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) to create microsphere encapsulated pBMP-2/PEI nanoparticles, PLGA@pBMP-2/PEI. We demonstrated that pBMP-2/PEI nanoparticles could slowly release from the PLGA@pBMP-2/PEI microspheres for a long period of time. The 3–15 μm diameter of the PLGA@pBMP-2/PEI further supported this slow release ability of the PLGA@pBMP-2/PEI. In vitro transfection assays demonstrated that pBMP-2/PEI released from PLGA@pBMP-2/PEI could efficiently transfect MC3T3-E1 cells, causing MC3T3-E1 cells to secrete human BMP-2 protein, increase calcium deposition and gene expressions of alkaline phosphatase (ALP), runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2), SP7 and I type collagen (COLL I), and finally induce MC3T3-E1 cell differentiation. Importantly, in vivo data from micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and histological staining demonstrated that the human BMP-2 released from PLGA@pBMP-2/PEI had a long-term effect locally and efficiently promoted bone formation in the bone defect area compared to control animals. All our data suggest that our PLGA-nanoparticle delivery system efficiently and functionally delivers the human BMP-2 cDNA and has potential clinical application in the future after further modification.
PMCID: PMC3748902  PMID: 23990717
gene therapy; bone regeneration; biodegradable polymer; human BMP-2
14.  The application of hyaluronic acid-derivatized carbon nanotubes in hematoporphyrin monomethyl ether-based photodynamic therapy for in vivo and in vitro cancer treatment 
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have shown great potential in both photothermal therapy and drug delivery. In this study, a CNT derivative, hyaluronic acid-derivatized CNTs (HA-CNTs) with high aqueous solubility, neutral pH, and tumor-targeting activity, were synthesized and characterized, and then a new photodynamic therapy agent, hematoporphyrin monomethyl ether (HMME), was adsorbed onto the functionalized CNTs to develop HMME-HA-CNTs. Tumor growth inhibition was investigated both in vivo and in vitro by a combination of photothermal therapy and photodynamic therapy using HMME-HA-CNTs. The ability of HMME-HA-CNT nanoparticles to combine local specific photodynamic therapy with external near-infrared photothermal therapy significantly improved the therapeutic efficacy of cancer treatment. Compared with photodynamic therapy or photothermal therapy alone, the combined treatment demonstrated a synergistic effect, resulting in higher therapeutic efficacy without obvious toxic effects to normal organs. Overall, it was demonstrated that HMME-HA-CNTs could be successfully applied to photodynamic therapy and photothermal therapy simultaneously in future tumor therapy.
PMCID: PMC3702246  PMID: 23843694
photodynamic therapy; photothermal therapy; HA-derivatized carbon nanotubes; tumor targeting; synergistic effect; hematoporphyrin monomethyl ether
15.  Facile one-step coating approach to magnetic submicron particles with poly(ethylene glycol) coats and abundant accessible carboxyl groups 
Magnetic submicron particles (MSPs) are pivotal biomaterials for magnetic separations in bioanalyses, but their preparation remains a technical challenge. In this report, a facile one-step coating approach to MSPs suitable for magnetic separations was investigated.
Polyethylene glycol) (PEG) was derived into PEG-bis-(maleic monoester) and maleic monoester-PEG-succinic monoester as the monomers. Magnetofluids were prepared via chemical co-precipitation and dispersion with the monomers. MSPs were prepared via one-step coating of magnetofluids in a water-in-oil microemulsion system of aerosol-OT and heptane by radical co-polymerization of such monomers.
The resulting MSPs contained abundant carboxyl groups, exhibited negligible nonspecific adsorption of common substances and excellent suspension stability, appeared as irregular particles by electronic microscopy, and had submicron sizes of broad distribution by laser scattering. Saturation magnetizations and average particle sizes were affected mainly by the quantities of monomers used for coating magnetofluids, and steric hindrance around carboxyl groups was alleviated by the use of longer monomers of one polymerizable bond for coating. After optimizations, MSPs bearing saturation magnetizations over 46 emu/g, average sizes of 0.32 μm, and titrated carboxyl groups of about 0.21 mmol/g were obtained. After the activation of carboxyl groups on MSPs into N-hydroxysuccinimide ester, biotin was immobilized on MSPs and the resulting biotin-functionalized MSPs isolated the conjugate of streptavidin and alkaline phosphatase at about 2.1 mg/g MSPs; streptavidin was immobilized at about 10 mg/g MSPs and retained 81% ± 18% (n = 5) of the specific activity of the free form.
The facile approach effectively prepares MSPs for magnetic separations.
PMCID: PMC3622656  PMID: 23589687
magnetic submicron particles; carboxyl groups; PEG-bis-(maleic monoester); monomer; radical co-polymerization; steric hindrance
16.  Anti-αvβ3 antibody guided three-step pretargeting approach using magnetoliposomes for molecular magnetic resonance imaging of breast cancer angiogenesis 
Pretargeting of biomarkers with nanoparticles in molecular imaging is promising to improve diagnostic specificity and realize signal amplification, but data regarding its targeting potential in magnetic resonance (MR) imaging are limited. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the tumor angiogenesis targeting efficacy of the anti-αvβ3 antibody guided three-step pretargeting approach with magnetoliposomes.
Polyethylene glycol-modified and superparamagnetic iron oxide-encapsulated magnetoliposomes with and without biotin were synthesized and characterized. The cytotoxicity of both probes was evaluated using the methyl thiazdyl tetrazolium assay, and their cellular uptake by mouse macrophage was visualized using Prussian blue staining. Three-step pretargeting MR imaging was performed on MDA-MB-435S breast cancer-bearing mice by intravenous administration of biotinylated anti-αvβ3 monoclonal antibodies (first step), followed by avidin and streptavidin (second step), and by biotinylated magnetoliposomes or magnetoliposomes in the targeted or nontargeted group, respectively (third step). The specificity of αvβ3 targeting was assessed by histologic examinations.
The developed magnetoliposomes were superparamagnetic and biocompatible as confirmed by cell toxicity assay. The liposomal bilayer and polyethylene glycol modification protected Fe3O4 cores from uptake by macrophage cells. MR imaging by three-step pretargeting resulted in a greater signal enhancement along the tumor periphery, occupying 7.0% of the tumor area, compared with 2.0% enhancement of the nontargeted group (P < 0.05). Histologic analysis demonstrated the targeted magnetoliposomes colocalized with neovasculature, which was responsible for the MR signal decrease.
These results indicate that our strategy for MR imaging of αvβ3-integrin is an effective means for sensitive detection of tumor angiogenesis, and may provide a targetable nanodelivery system for anticancer drugs.
PMCID: PMC3548418  PMID: 23345972
pretargeting; contrast agents; superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles; avidin-biotin
17.  Nanoparticle-enhanced electrical impedance detection and its potential significance in image tomography 
The conductivity and permittivity of tumors are known to differ significantly from those of normal tissues. Electrical impedance tomography (EIT) is a relatively new imaging method for exploiting these differences. However, the accuracy of data capture is one of the difficult problems urgently to be solved in the clinical application of EIT technology. A new concept of EIT sensitizers is put forward in this paper with the goal of expanding the contrast ratio of tumor and healthy tissue to enhance EIT imaging quality. The use of nanoparticles for changing tumor characteristics and determining the infiltration vector for easier detection has been widely accepted in the biomedical field. Ultra-pure water, normal saline, and gold nanoparticles, three kinds of material with large differences in electrical characteristics, are considered as sensitizers and undergo mathematical model analysis and animal experimentation. Our preliminary results suggest that nanoparticles are promising for sensitization work. Furthermore, in experimental and simulation results, we found that we should select different sensitizers for the detection of different types and stages of tumor.
PMCID: PMC3540962  PMID: 23319858
EIT; nanoparticle sensitizer; tumor detection; EMF analysis
18.  A novel preparation method for silicone oil nanoemulsions and its application for coating hair with silicone 
Silicone oil, as a major component in conditioner, is beneficial in the moisture preservation and lubrication of hair. However, it is difficult for silicone oil to directly absorb on the hair surface because of its hydrophobicity. Stable nanoemulsions containing silicone oil may present as a potential solution to this problem.
Silicone oil nanoemulsions were prepared using the oil-in-water method with nonionic surfactants. Emulsion particle size and distribution were characterized by scanning electron microscopy. The kinetic stability of this nanoemulsion system was investigated under accelerated stability tests and long-term storage. The effect of silicone oil deposition on hair was examined by analyzing the element of hair after treatment of silicone oil nanoemulsions.
Nonionic surfactants such as Span 80 and Tween 80 are suitable emulsifiers to prepare oil-in-water nanoemulsions that are both thermodynamically stable and can enhance the absorption of silicone oil on hair surface.
The silicone oil-in-water nanoemulsions containing nonionic surfactants present as a promising solution to improve the silicone oil deposition on the hair surface for hair care applications.
PMCID: PMC3500031  PMID: 23166436
silicone oil; nanoemulsion; stability; moisture preservation; lubrication
19.  Development and characterization of a novel nanoemulsion drug-delivery system for potential application in oral delivery of protein drugs 
The stability of protein drugs remains one of the key hurdles to their success in the market. The aim of the present study was to design a novel nanoemulsion drug-delivery system (NEDDS) that would encapsulate a standard-model protein drug – bovine serum albumin (BSA) – to improve drug stability.
The BSA NEDDS was prepared using a phase-inversion method and pseudoternary phase diagrams. The following characteristics were studied: morphology, size, zeta potential, drug loading, and encapsulation efficiency. We also investigated the stability of the BSA NEDDS, bioactivity of BSA encapsulated within the NEDDS, the integrity of the primary, secondary, and tertiary structures, and specificity.
The BSA NEDDS consisted of Cremophor EL-35, propylene glycol, isopropyl myristate, and normal saline. The average particle diameter of the BSA NEDDS was about 21.8 nm, and the system showed a high encapsulation efficiency (>90%) and an adequate drug-loading capacity (45 mg/mL). The thermodynamic stability of the system was investigated at different temperatures and pH levels and in room-temperature conditions for 180 days. BSA NEDDS showed good structural integrity and specificity for the primary, secondary, and tertiary structures, and good bioactivity of the loaded BSA.
BSA NEDDS showed the properties of a good nanoemulsion-delivery system. NEDDS can greatly enhance the stability of the protein drug BSA while maintaining high levels of drug bioactivity, good specificity, and integrity of the primary, secondary, and tertiary protein structures. These findings indicate that the nanoemulsion is a potential formulation for oral administration of protein drugs.
Video abstract
PMCID: PMC3484902  PMID: 23118537
nanoemulsion; drug-delivery system; protein drug; oral administration; stability
20.  Degradable copolymer based on amphiphilic N-octyl-N-quatenary chitosan and low-molecular weight polyethylenimine for gene delivery 
Chitosan shows particularly high biocompatibility and fairly low cytotoxicity. However, chitosan is insoluble at physiological pH. Moreover, it lacks charge, so shows poor transfection. In order to develop a new type of gene vector with high transfection efficiency and low cytotoxicity, amphiphilic chitosan was synthesized and linked with low-molecular weight polyethylenimine (PEI).
We first synthesized amphiphilic chitosan – N-octyl-N-quatenary chitosan (OTMCS), then prepared degradable PEI derivates by cross-linking low-molecular weight PEI with amphiphilic chitosan to produce a new polymeric gene vector (OTMCS–PEI). The new gene vector was characterized by various physicochemical methods. We also determined its cytotoxicity and gene transfecton efficiency in vitro and in vivo.
The vector showed controlled degradation. It was very stable and showed excellent buffering capacity. The particle sizes of the OTMCS–PEI/DNA complexes were around 150–200 nm with proper zeta potentials from 10 mV to 30 mV. The polymer could protect plasmid DNA from being digested by DNase I at a concentration of 2.25 U DNase I/μg DNA. Furthermore, they were resistant to dissociation induced by 50% fetal bovine serum and 1100 μg/mL sodium heparin. OTMCS–PEI revealed lower cytotoxicity, even at higher doses. Compared with PEI 25 KDa, the OTMCS–PEI/DNA complexes also showed higher transfection efficiency in vitro and in vivo.
OTMCS–PEI was a potential candidate as a safe and efficient gene vector for gene therapy.
PMCID: PMC3469101  PMID: 23071395
nonviral gene vector; polyethylenimine; transfection efficiency; cytotoxicity
21.  Development of terbinafine solid lipid nanoparticles as a topical delivery system 
To resolve problems of long treatment durations and frequent administration of the antifungal agent terbinafine (TB), solid lipid nanoparticles (SLNs) with the ability to load lipophilic drugs and nanosize were developed. The SLNs were manufactured by a microemulsion technique in which glyceryl monostearate (GMS), glyceryl behenate (Compritol® 888; Gattefossé), and glyceryl palmitostearate (Precirol® ATO 5; Gattefossé) were used as the solid lipid phases, Tween® and Cremophor® series as the surfactants, and propylene glycol as the cosurfactant to construct ternary phase diagrams. The skin of nude mice was used as a barrier membrane, and penetration levels of TB of the designed formulations and a commercial product, Lamisil® Once™ (Novartis Pharmaceuticals), in the stratum corneum (SC), viable epidermis, and dermis were measured; particle sizes were determined as an indicator of stability. The optimal SLN system contained a <5% lipid phase and >50% water phase. The addition of ethanol or etchants had no significant effect on enhancing the amount of TB that penetrated the skin layers, but it was enhanced by increasing the percentage of the lipid phase. Furthermore, the combination of GMS and Compritol® 888 was able to increase the stable amount of TB that penetrated all skin layers. For the ACP1-GM1 (4% lipid phase; Compritol® 888: GMS of 1:1) formulation, the amount of TB that penetrated the SC was similar to that of Lamisil® Once™, whereas the amount of TB of the dermis was higher than that of Lamisil® Once™ at 12 hours, and it was almost the same as that of Lamisil® Once™ at 24 hours. It was concluded that the application of ACP1-GM1 for 12 hours might have an efficacy comparable to that of Lamisil® Once™ for 24 hours, which would resolve the practical problem of the longer administration period that is necessary for Lamisil® Once™.
PMCID: PMC3423152  PMID: 22923986
terbinafine; solid lipid nanoparticle; topical delivery system
22.  Biofunctionalization of a titanium surface with a nano-sawtooth structure regulates the behavior of rat bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells 
The topography of an implant surface can serve as a powerful signaling cue for attached cells and can enhance the quality of osseointegration. A series of improved implant surfaces functionalized with nanoscale structures have been fabricated using various methods.
In this study, using an H2O2 process, we fabricated two size-controllable sawtooth-like nanostructures with different dimensions on a titanium surface. The effects of the two nano-sawtooth structures on rat bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMMSCs) were evaluated without the addition of osteoinductive chemical factors.
These new surface modifications did not adversely affect cell viability, and rat BMMSCs demonstrated a greater increase in proliferation ability on the surfaces of the nano-sawtooth structures than on a control plate. Furthermore, upregulated expression of osteogenic-related genes and proteins indicated that the nano-sawtooth structures promote osteoblastic differentiation of rat BMMSCs. Importantly, the large nano-sawtooth structure resulted in the greatest cell responses, including increased adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation.
The enhanced adhesion, proliferation, and osteogenic differentiation abilities of rat BMMSCs on the nano-sawtooth structures suggest the potential to induce improvements in bone-titanium integration in vivo. Our study reveals the key role played by the nano-sawtooth structures on a titanium surface for the fate of rat BMMSCs and provides insights into the study of stem cell-nanostructure relationships and the related design of improved biomedical implant surfaces.
PMCID: PMC3422101  PMID: 22927760
nanotechnology; surface modification; osteogenic differentiation; BMMSCs; implants; osseointegration
23.  The scent fingerprint of hepatocarcinoma: in-vitro metastasis prediction with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) 
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common and aggressive form of cancer. Due to a high rate of postoperative recurrence, the prognosis for HCC is poor. Subclinical metastasis is the major cause of tumor recurrence and patient mortality. Currently, there is no reliable prognostic method of invasion.
To investigate the feasibility of fingerprints of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for the in-vitro prediction of metastasis.
Headspace gases were collected from 36 cell cultures (HCC with high and low metastatic potential and normal cells) and analyzed using nanomaterial-based sensors. Predictive models were built by employing discriminant factor analysis pattern recognition, and the classification success was determined using leave-one-out cross-validation. The chemical composition of each headspace sample was studied using gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (GC-MS).
Excellent discrimination was achieved using the nanomaterial-based sensors between (i) all HCC and normal controls; (ii) low metastatic HCC and normal controls; (iii) high metastatic HCC and normal controls; and (iv) high and low HCC. Several HCC-related VOCs that could be associated with biochemical cellular processes were identified through GC-MS analysis.
The presented results constitute a proof-of-concept for the in-vitro prediction of the metastatic potential of HCC from VOC fingerprints using nanotechnology. Further studies on a larger number of more diverse cell cultures are needed to evaluate the robustness of the VOC patterns. These findings could benefit the development of a fast and potentially inexpensive laboratory test for subclinical HCC metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3415321  PMID: 22888249
hepatocarcinoma; metastasis; volatile organic compound; sensor; GC-MS
24.  Bufalin-loaded mPEG-PLGA-PLL-cRGD nanoparticles: preparation, cellular uptake, tissue distribution, and anticancer activity 
Recent studies have shown that bufalin has a good antitumor effect but has high toxicity, poor water solubility, a short half-life, a narrow therapeutic window, and a toxic dose that is close to the therapeutic dose, which all limit its clinical application. This study aimed to determine the targeting efficacy of nanoparticles (NPs) made of methoxy polyethylene glycol (mPEG), polylactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA), poly-L-lysine (PLL), and cyclic arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (cRGD) loaded with bufalin, ie, bufalin-loaded mPEG-PLGA-PLL-cRGD nanoparticles (BNPs), in SW620 colon cancer-bearing mice.
BNPs showed uniform size. The size, shape, zeta potential, drug loading, encapsulation efficiency, and release of these nanoparticles were studied in vitro. The tumor targeting, cellular uptake, and growth-inhibitory effect of BNPs in vivo were tested.
BNPs were of uniform size with an average particle size of 164 ± 84 nm and zeta potential of 2.77 mV. The encapsulation efficiency was 81.7% ± 0.89%, and the drug load was 3.92% ± 0.16%. The results of in vitro cytotoxicity studies showed that although the blank NPs were nontoxic, they enhanced the cytotoxicity of bufalin in BNPs. Drug release experiments showed that the release of the drug was prolonged and sustained. The results of confocal laser scanning microscopy indicated that BNPs could effectively bind to human umbilical vein endothelial cells. In the SW620 xenograft mice model, the BNPs could effectively target the tumor in vivo. The BNPs were significantly more effective than other NPs in preventing tumor growth.
BNPs had even size distribution, were stable, and had a slow-releasing and tumor-targeting effect. BNPs significantly inhibited colon cancer growth in vitro and in vivo. As a novel drug carrier system, BNPs are a potentially promising targeting treatment for colon cancer.
PMCID: PMC3414086  PMID: 22888239
colon cancer; nanoparticles; tumor target; bufalin
25.  Antitumor activity of folate-targeted, paclitaxelloaded polymeric micelles on a human esophageal EC9706 cancer cell line 
Esophageal cancer is recognized as one of the most refractory pernicious diseases. In addition, it is an aggressive malignancy with a propensity for local progression and distant dissemination. Because of the poor long-term prognosis for patients with esophageal cancer, increasing attention has focused on the integration of targeted agents into current therapeutics. Nevertheless, there have been few studies reported concerning the therapeutic efficacy of paclitaxel-conjugated polymeric micelles in human esophageal cancer in vivo. Therefore, the aim of this research was to investigate the tumor inhibition effect of composite micelles containing folic acid and paclitaxel on the human esophageal EC9706 cancer cell line.
Methods and results
Intravenous administration of folate-targeted, paclitaxel-loaded micelles was demonstrated to be more efficient in inhibiting subcutaneous xenograft tumors and extending the survival rate of tumor-bearing nude mice than free paclitaxel and plain paclitaxel micelles at an equivalent paclitaxel dose of 20 mg/kg, which was further backed up by flow cytometry, TUNEL, and expression of apoptosis-related proteins, including Bax, Bcl2, and caspase 3 in this study.
The folate-mediated paclitaxel-loaded polymeric micelle is a promising agent for the treatment of human esophageal cancer.
PMCID: PMC3405887  PMID: 22848173
esophageal cancer; folate; paclitaxel; polymer-drug conjugate; targeted drug delivery

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