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1.  Overendocytosis of gold nanoparticles increases autophagy and apoptosis in hypoxic human renal proximal tubular cells 
Gold nanoparticles (GNPs) can potentially be used in biomedical fields ranging from therapeutics to diagnostics, and their use will result in increased human exposure. Many studies have demonstrated that GNPs can be deposited in the kidneys, particularly in renal tubular epithelial cells. Chronic hypoxic is inevitable in chronic kidney diseases, and it results in renal tubular epithelial cells that are susceptible to different types of injuries. However, the understanding of the interactions between GNPs and hypoxic renal tubular epithelial cells is still rudimentary. In the present study, we characterized the cytotoxic effects of GNPs in hypoxic renal tubular epithelial cells.
Both 5 nm and 13 nm GNPs were synthesized and characterized using various biophysical methods, including transmission electron microscopy, dynamic light scattering, and ultraviolet–visible spectrophotometry. We detected the cytotoxicity of 5 and 13 nm GNPs (0, 1, 25, and 50 nM) to human renal proximal tubular cells (HK-2) by Cell Counting Kit-8 assay and lactate dehydrogenase release assay, but we just found the toxic effect in the 5 nm GNP-treated cells at 50 nM dose under hypoxic condition. Furthermore, the transmission electron microscopy images revealed that GNPs were either localized in vesicles or free in the lysosomes in 5 nm GNPs-treated HK-2 cells, and the cellular uptake of the GNPs in the hypoxic cells was significantly higher than that in normoxic cells. In normoxic HK-2 cells, 5 nm GNPs (50 nM) treatment could cause autophagy and cell survival. However, in hypoxic conditions, the GNP exposure at the same condition led to the production of reactive oxygen species, the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨM), and an increase in apoptosis and autophagic cell death.
Our results demonstrate that renal tubular epithelial cells presented different responses under normoxic and hypoxic environments, which provide an important basis for understanding the risks associated with GNP use–especially for the potential GNP-related therapies in chronic kidney disease patients.
PMCID: PMC4168869  PMID: 25246788
gold nanoparticles (GNPs); toxicity; autophagy; apoptosis
2.  Amplified voltammetric detection of glycoproteins using 4-mercaptophenylboronic acid/biotin-modified multifunctional gold nanoparticles as labels 
Ultrasensitive detection of protein biomarkers is essential for early diagnosis and therapy of many diseases. Glycoproteins, differing from other types of proteins, contain carbohydrate moieties in the oligosaccharide chains. Boronic acid can form boronate ester covalent bonds with diol-containing species. Herein, we present a sensitive and cost-effective electrochemical method for glycoprotein detection using 4-mercaptophenylboronic acid (MBA)/biotin-modified gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) (MBA-biotin-AuNPs) as labels. To demonstrate the feasibility and sensitivity of this method, recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) was tested as a model analyte. Specifically, rHuEPO was captured by the anti-rHuEPO aptamer-covered electrode and then derivatized with MBA-biotin-AuNPs through the boronic acid–carbohydrate interaction. The MBA-biotin-AuNPs facilitated the attachment of streptavidin-conjugated alkaline phosphatase for the production of electroactive p-aminophenol from p-aminophenyl phosphate substrate. A detection limit of 8 fmol L−1 for rHuEPO detection was achieved. Other glycosylated and non-glycosylated proteins, such as horseradish peroxidase, prostate specific antigen, metallothionein, streptavidin, and thrombin showed no interference in the detection assay.
PMCID: PMC4043723  PMID: 24920899
electrochemical biosensor; boronic acid; signal amplification; alkaline phosphatase
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  Sustained release of vancomycin from novel biodegradable nanofiber-loaded vascular prosthetic grafts: in vitro and in vivo study 
This study describes novel biodegradable, drug-eluting nanofiber-loaded vascular prosthetic grafts that provide local and sustained delivery of vancomycin to surrounding tissues. Biodegradable nanofibers were prepared by first dissolving poly(D,L)-lactide-co-glycolide and vancomycin in 1,1,1,3,3,3-hexafluoro-2-propanol. The solution was then electrospun into nanofibers onto the surface of vascular prostheses. The in vitro release rates of the pharmaceutical from the nanofiber-loaded prostheses was characterized using an elution method and a high-performance liquid chromatography assay. Experimental results indicated that the drug-eluting prosthetic grafts released high concentrations of vancomycin in vitro (well above the minimum inhibitory concentration) for more than 30 days. In addition, the in vivo release behavior of the drug-eluting grafts implanted in the subcutaneous pocket of rabbits was also documented. The drug-eluting grafts developed in this work have potential applications in assisting the treatment of vascular prosthesis infection and resisting reinfection when an infected graft is to be exchanged.
PMCID: PMC4321605
drug-eluting prosthetic graft; vascular prosthesis infection; release characteristics
10.  Codelivery of doxorubicin and curcumin with lipid nanoparticles results in improved efficacy of chemotherapy in liver cancer 
Liver cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. The combination therapy of cytotoxic and chemosensitizing agents loaded in nanoparticles has been highlighted as an effective treatment for different cancers. However, such studies in liver cancer remain very limited. In our study, we aim to develop a novel lipid nanoparticles loaded with doxorubicin (DOX) (an effective drug for liver cancer) and curcumin (Cur) (a chemosensitizer) simultaneously, and we examined the efficacy of chemotherapy in liver cancer. DOX and Cur codelivery lipid nanoparticles (DOX/Cur-NPs) were successfully prepared using a high-pressure microfluidics technique, showing a mean particle size of around 90 nm, a polydispersity index <0.3, and a zeta potential <−10 mV. The encapsulation efficacy was >90% for both DOX and Cur. The blank lipid nanoparticles were nontoxic, as determined by a cell cytotoxicity study in human normal liver cells L02 and liver cancer cells HepG2. In vitro DOX release studies revealed a sustained-release pattern until 48 hours in DOX/Cur-NPs. We found enhanced cytotoxicity and decreased inhibitory concentration (IC)50 in HepG2 cells and reduced cytotoxicity in L02 cells treated with DOX/Cur-NPs, suggesting the synergistic effects of DOX/Cur-NPs compared with free DOX and DOX nanoparticles (NPs). The optimal weight ratio of DOX and Cur was 1:1. Annexin-V-fluorescein isothiocyanate/propidium iodide double staining showed enhanced apoptosis in HepG2 cells treated with DOX/Cur-NPs compared with free DOX and DOX-NPs. An in vivo experiment showed the synergistic effect of DOX/Cur-NPs compared with DOX-NPs on liver tumor growth inhibition. Taken together, the simultaneous delivery of DOX and Cur by DOX/Cur-NPs might be a promising treatment for liver cancer.
PMCID: PMC4284012  PMID: 25565818
doxorubicin; curcumin; codelivery; liver cancer; cytotoxicity; tumor growth inhibition
11.  Activation of Schwann cells in vitro by magnetic nanocomposites via applied magnetic field 
Schwann cells (SCs) are attractive seed cells in neural tissue engineering, but their application is limited by attenuated biological activities and impaired functions with aging. Therefore, it is important to explore an approach to enhance the viability and biological properties of SCs. In the present study, a magnetic composite made of magnetically responsive magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) and a biodegradable chitosan–glycerophosphate polymer were prepared and characterized. It was further explored whether such magnetic nanocomposites via applied magnetic fields would regulate SC biological activities. The magnetization of the magnetic nanocomposite was measured by a vibrating sample magnetometer. The compositional characterization of the magnetic nanocomposite was examined by Fourier-transform infrared and X-ray diffraction. The tolerance of SCs to the magnetic fields was tested by flow-cytometry assay. The proliferation of cells was examined by a 5-ethynyl-2-deoxyuridine-labeling assay, a PrestoBlue assay, and a Live/Dead assay. Messenger ribonucleic acid of BDNF, GDNF, NT-3, and VEGF in SCs was assayed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. The amount of BDNF, GDNF, NT-3, and VEGF secreted from SCs was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. It was found that magnetic nanocomposites containing 10% MNPs showed a cross-section diameter of 32.33±1.81 µm, porosity of 80.41%±0.72%, and magnetization of 5.691 emu/g at 8 kOe. The 10% MNP magnetic nanocomposites were able to support cell adhesion and spreading and further promote proliferation of SCs under magnetic field exposure. Interestingly, a magnetic field applied through the 10% MNP magnetic scaffold significantly increased the gene expression and protein secretion of BDNF, GDNF, NT-3, and VEGF. This work is the first stage in our understanding of how to precisely regulate the viability and biological properties of SCs in tissue-engineering grafts, which combined with additional molecular factors may lead to the development of new nerve grafts.
PMCID: PMC4275057  PMID: 25565803
Schwann cell; magnetic field; nanocomposite; cell proliferation
12.  Surface characteristics of and in vitro behavior of osteoblast-like cells on titanium with nanotopography prepared by high-energy shot peening 
Background and methods
Commercial pure titanium with nanotopography was prepared via a high-energy shot-peening (HESP) technique. The surface characteristics were evaluated, and the preliminary cell responses to the nanotopographical surface were investigated.
The nanotopographical surface layer on titanium was successfully processed by HESP. The average nanoscale grains were approximately 60 nm in diameter and they were nonhomogeneously distributed on the surface. MG-63 cells with an osteogenic phenotype were well adhered and well spread on the nanostructured surface. Compared to the original polished control, the nanotopographical surface highly improved the adhesion, viability, and differentiation of MG-63 cells.
Titanium with nanotopography achieved by HESP has good cytocompatibility and shows promise for dental implant applications.
PMCID: PMC4257054  PMID: 25489244
nanotopography; cytocompatibility; titanium; high-energy shot peening
13.  Study on the prostate cancer-targeting mechanism of aptamer-modified nanoparticles and their potential anticancer effect in vivo 
Ligand-mediated prostate cancer (PCa)-targeting gene delivery is one of the focuses of research in recent years. Our previous study reported the successful preparation of aptamer-modified nanoparticles (APT-NPs) in our laboratory and demonstrated their PCa-targeting ability in vitro. However, the mechanism underlying this PCa-targeting effect and their anticancer ability in vivo have not yet been elucidated. The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility of using APT-NPs to deliver micro RNA (miRNA) systemically to PCa cells, to testify their tumor-targeting efficiency, and to observe their biodistribution after systemic administration to a xenograft mouse model of PCa. In addition, the effect of APT depletion and endocytosis inhibitors on cellular uptake was also evaluated quantitatively in LNCaP cells to explore the internalization mechanism of APT-NPs. Finally, blood chemistry, and renal and liver function parameters were measured in the xenograft mouse model of PCa to see whether APT-NPs had any demonstrable toxicity in mice in vivo. The results showed that APT-NPs prolonged the survival duration of the PCa tumor-bearing mice as compared with the unmodified NPs. In addition, they had a potential PCa-targeting effect in vivo. In conclusion, this research provides a prototype for the safe and efficient delivery of miRNA expression vectors to PCa cells, which may prove useful for preclinical and clinical studies on the treatment of PCa.
PMCID: PMC4247134  PMID: 25473281
miRNA; aptamer; polyamidoamine; prostate-specific membrane antigen; targeted delivery; prostate cancer
14.  Microbubbles coupled to methotrexate-loaded liposomes for ultrasound-mediated delivery of methotrexate across the blood–brain barrier 
Methotrexate (MTX) is the single most effective agent for the treatment of primary central nervous system lymphoma. Currently, the delivery of MTX to the brain is achieved by high systemic doses, which cause severe long-term neurotoxicity, or intrathecal administration, which is highly invasive and may lead to infections or hemorrhagic complications. Acoustically active microbubbles have been developed as drug carriers for the noninvasive and brain-targeted delivery of therapeutics. However, their application is limited by their low drug-loading capacity. To overcome this limitation, we prepared microbubbles coupled to MTX-loaded liposomes using ZHIFUXIAN, a novel type of microbubbles with a superior safety profile and long circulation time. MTX-liposome-coupled microbubbles had a high drug-loading capacity of 8.91%±0.86%, and their size (2.64±0.93 μm in diameter) was suitable for intravenous injection. When used with ultrasound, they showed more potent in vitro cytotoxicity against Walker-256 cancer cells than MTX alone or MTX-loaded liposomes. When Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to sonication, administration of these MTX-liposome-coupled microbubbles via the tail vein led to targeted disruption of the blood–brain barrier without noticeable tissue or capillary damage. High-performance liquid chromatography analysis of the brain MTX concentration showed that MTX delivery to the brain followed the order of MTX-liposome-coupled microbubbles + ultrasound (25.3±2.4 μg/g) > unmodified ZHIFUXIAN + MTX + ultrasound (18.6±2.2 μg/g) > MTX alone (6.97±0.75 μg/g) > MTX-liposome-coupled microbubbles (2.92±0.39 μg/g). Therefore, treatment with MTX-liposome-coupled microbubbles and ultrasound resulted in a significantly higher brain MTX concentration than all other treatments (P<0.01). These results suggest that MTX-liposome-coupled microbubbles may hold great promise as new and effective therapies for primary central nervous system lymphoma and other central nervous system malignancies.
PMCID: PMC4211917  PMID: 25364248
methotrexate; microbubbles; ultrasound; liposomes; blood–brain barrier
15.  Siliceous mesostructured cellular foams/poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyhexanoate) composite biomaterials for bone regeneration 
Osteoinductive and biodegradable composite biomaterials for bone regeneration were prepared by combining poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyhexanoate) (PHBHHx) with siliceous mesostructured cellular foams (SMC), using the porogen leaching method. Surface hydrophilicity, morphology, and recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein 2 adsorption/release behavior of the SMC/PHBHHx scaffolds were analyzed. Results of scanning electron microscopy indicated that the SMC was uniformly dispersed in the PHBHHx scaffolds, and SMC modification scaffolds have an interconnected porous architecture with pore sizes ranging from 200 to 400 μm. The measurements of the water contact angles suggested that the incorporation of SMC into PHBHHx improves the hydrophilicity of the composite. In vitro studies with simulated body fluid show great improvements to bioactivity and biodegradability versus pure PHBHHx scaffolds. Cell adhesion and cell proliferation on the scaffolds was also evaluated, and the new tools provide a better environment for human mesenchymal stem cell attachment, spreading, proliferation, and osteogenic differentiation on PHBHHx scaffolds. Moreover, micro-computed tomography and histological evaluation confirmed that the SMC/PHBHHx scaffolds improved the efficiency of new bone regeneration with excellent biocompatibility and biodegradability and faster and more effective osteogenesis in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4211913  PMID: 25364243
stem cells; mesoporous; scaffolds; bone regeneration; rhBMP-2
16.  Self-assembled nanoparticles based on the c(RGDfk) peptide for the delivery of siRNA targeting the VEGFR2 gene for tumor therapy 
The clinical application of small interfering RNA (siRNA) has been restricted by their poor intracellular uptake, low serum stability, and inability to target specific cells. During the last several decades, a great deal of effort has been devoted to exploring materials for siRNA delivery. In this study, biodegradable, tumor-targeted, self-assembled peptide nanoparticles consisting of cyclo(Arg–Gly–Asp–d–Phe–Lys)-8–amino–3,6–dioxaoctanoic acid–β–maleimidopropionic acid (hereafter referred to as RPM) were found to be an effective siRNA carrier both in vitro and in vivo. The nanoparticles were characterized based on transmission electron microscopy, circular dichroism spectra, and dynamic light scattering. In vitro analyses showed that the RPM/VEGFR2-siRNA exhibited negligible cytotoxicity and induced effective gene silencing. Delivery of the RPM/VEGFR2 (zebrafish)-siRNA into zebrafish embryos resulted in inhibition of neovascularization. Administration of RPM/VEGFR2 (mouse)-siRNA to tumor-bearing nude mice led to a significant inhibition of tumor growth, a marked reduction of vessels, and a down-regulation of VEGFR2 (messenger RNA and protein) in tumor tissue. Furthermore, the levels of IFN-α, IFN-γ, IL-12, and IL-6 in mouse serum, assayed via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, did not indicate any immunogenicity of the RPM/VEGFR2 (mouse)-siRNA in vivo. In conclusion, RPM may provide a safe and effective delivery vector for the clinical application of siRNAs in tumor therapy.
PMCID: PMC4122582  PMID: 25114522
siRNA delivery; self-assembly nanoparticles; gene silencing; tumor targeting
17.  Preclinical studies of N3-O-toluyl-fluorouracil-loaded lipid-based nanosuspensions in H22-bearing mice 
N3-O-toluyl-fluorouracil (TFU) is a potential antitumor prodrug of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), but its poor solubility has limited its use in clinic. This study aimed to improve the bioavailability of TFU by preparing TFU-loaded lipid-based nanosuspensions (TFU-LNS) and perform a preclinical evaluation.
TFU-LNS were prepared through high-pressure homogenization and were lyophilized afterwards. For in vitro test, the physicochemical properties and cytotoxicity against HegG2 cells were conducted. For in vivo evaluation, the pharmacokinetics, tissue distribution, and antitumor efficacy were investigated in H22-bearing Kunming mice.
TFU showed different degradability in four media; in particular, nearly all of it converted to an equimolar amount of 5-FU in blank plasma of Wistar rats. The lyophilized TFU-LNS had a mean particle size of 180.03±3.11 nm and zeta potential of −8.02±1.43 mV and showed no discernible changes after storage at 4°C for 3 months. In the in vivo antitumor study, the antitumor efficacy of TFU-LNS was consistent with that of 5-FU injection. Furthermore, TFU-LNS released a lower concentration of 5-FU in heart and kidney throughout the tissue distribution studies.
TFU-LNS exhibited convincing antitumor activity and easy scale-up opportunity, which suggests that TFU-LNS might be a promising drug delivery system for cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC4045086  PMID: 24920908
5-fluorouracil; high-pressure homogenization; cytotoxicity; cancer therapy
18.  Enhancement of radiotherapy efficacy by miR-200c-loaded gelatinase-stimuli PEG-Pep-PCL nanoparticles in gastric cancer cells 
Radiotherapy is the main locoregional control modality for many types of unresectable tumors, including gastric cancer. However, many patients fail radiotherapy due to intrinsic radioresistance of cancer cells, which has been found to be strongly associated with cancer stem cell (CSC)-like properties. In this study, we developed a nanoparticle formulation to deliver miR-200c, which is reported to inhibit CSC-like properties, and then evaluated its potential activity as a radiosensitizer. miR-200c nanoparticles significantly augmented radiosensitivity in three gastric cancer cell lines (sensitization enhancement ratio 1.13–1.25), but only slightly in GES-1 cells (1.06). In addition to radioenhancement, miR-200c nanoparticles reduced the expression of CD44, a putative CSC marker, and the percentage of CD44+ BGC823 cells. Meanwhile, other CSC-like properties, including invasiveness and resistance to apoptosis, could be suppressed by miR-200c nanoparticles. CSC-associated radioresistance mechanisms, involving reactive oxygen species levels and DNA repair capacity, were also attenuated. We have demonstrated that miR-200c nanoparticles are an effective radiosensitizer in gastric cancer cells and induce little radiosensitization in normal cells, which suggests that they are as a promising candidate for further preclinical and clinical evaluation.
PMCID: PMC4026568  PMID: 24872697
radiosensitizer; miR-200c; gelatinase-stimuli nanoparticles; cancer stem cell-like properties; gastric cancer
19.  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
20.  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
21.  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
22.  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
23.  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
24.  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
25.  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

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