Biomacromolecules, Vol.21, No.2, 716-724, 2020
Apolipoprotein E Peptide-Guided Disulfide-Cross-Linked Micelles for Targeted Delivery of Sorafenib to Hepatocellular Carcinoma
Sorafenib (SF) is an FDA-approved molecular-targeted drug for treating hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). SF, however, suffers from poor water solubility, low bioavailability, dose-limiting side effects, and possible drug resistance. Here, we report on apolipoprotein E peptide-decorated disulfide-cross-linked micellar SF (ApoE-Ms-SF) as a targeted and intelligent formulation for HCC therapy. ApoE-Ms-SF was prepared with a good SF loading of 7.0 wt %, small size (37 nm), high stability, and reduction-triggered drug release from poly(ethylene glycol)-b-poly(epsilon-caprolactone-co-dithiolane trimethylene carbonate)-me-fenamate (PEG-P(CL-DTC)-MA) and ApoE-modified ApoE-PEGP(CL-DTC) block copolymers. MTT assays in low-density lipoprotein receptors (LDLRs) overexpressing SMMC-7721 human liver cancer cells showed ApoE density-dependent antitumor potency of ApoE-Ms-SF, in which 7.5% ApoE led to the best antitumor effect (IC50: 8.5 vs 23.3 mu g/mL for free SF). Confocal studies, flow cytometry, western blot, and apoptotic assays illustrated clearly a more efficient uptake of ApoE-Ms than nontargeted Ms by SMMC-7721 cells as well as lower phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase protein level and better cell apoptosis caused by ApoE-Ms-SF compared with Ms-SF and free SF. ApoE-Ms-SF revealed a long circulation time (elimination half-life = 6.8 h). DiR-loaded ApoE-Ms showed a significantly higher accumulation in SMMC-7721 tumor than the nontargeted counterpart. The therapeutic outcomes in the orthotopic SMMC-7721 tumor models demonstrated that ApoE-Ms-SF reduced SF-associated side effects and brought about enhanced angiogenesis inhibition and tumor apoptosis compared to free SF and Ms-SF controls, leading to a better treatment of HCC.