An amphiphilic copolymer, folic acid (FA) modified poly(ethylene glycol)- poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (FA-PEG-PLGA) was prepared and explored as a nanometer carrier for the co-delivery of cisplatin (cis-diaminodichloroplatinum, CDDP) and paclitaxel (PTX). CDDP and PTX were encapsulated inside the hydrophobic inner core and chelated to the middle shell, respectively. PEG provided the outer corona for prolonged circulation. An in vitro release profile of the CDDP + PTX-encapsulated nanoparticles revealed that the PTX chelation cross-link prevented an initial burst release of CDDP. After an incubation period of 24 hours, the CDDP+PTX-encapsulated nanoparticles exhibited a highly synergistic effect for the inhibition of A549 (FA receptor negative) and M109 (FA receptor positive) lung cancer cell line proliferation. Pharmacokinetic experiment and distribution research shows that nanoparticles have longer circulation time in the blood and can prolong the treatment times of chemotherapeutic drugs. For the in vivo treatment of A549 cells xeno-graft lung tumor, the CDDP+PTX-encapsulated nanoparticles displayed an obvious tumor inhibiting effect with an 89.96% tumor suppression rate (TSR). This TSR was significantly higher than that of free chemotherapy drug combination or nanoparticles with a single drug. For M109 cells xeno-graft tumor, the TSR was 95.03%. In vitro and in vivo experiments have all shown that the CDDP+PTX-encapsulated nanoparticles have better targeting and antitumor effects in M109 cells than CDDP+PTX-loaded PEG-PLGA nanoparticles (p < 0.05). In addition, more importantly, the enhanced anti-tumor efficacy of the CDDP+PTX-encapsulated nanoparticles came with reduced side-effects. No obvious body weight loss or functional changes occurred within blood components, liver, or kidneys during the treatment of A549 and M109 tumor-bearing mice with the CDDP+PTX-encapsulated nanoparticles. Thus, the FA modified amphiphilic copolymerbased combination of CDDP and PTX may provide useful guidance for effective and safe cancer chemotherapy, especially in tumors with high FA receptor expression.
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