Magnetoresponsive squalenoyl gemcitabine composite nanoparticles for cancer active targeting

Langmuir. 2008 Jul 15;24(14):7512-9. doi: 10.1021/la800547s. Epub 2008 Jun 10.


Gemcitabine is widely used against a variety of solid tumors; however, it possesses some important drawbacks such as rapid deamination leading to short biological half-life and induction of tumor resistance. We have shown previously that the covalent coupling of squalene (a precursor of cholesterol in sterol biosynthesis) to gemcitabine resulted in a potent nanomedicine, squalenoyl gemcitabine (SQdFdC), which displayed appreciable anticancer activity. Now, the present study describes the concept of magnetic responsiveness of SQdFdC nanoparticles obtained by the nanoprecipitation of SQdFdC around magnetite nanoparticles. To investigate these new core/shell nanoparticles, we have compared their structure, chemical composition and surface properties with those of either the magnetic core alone or of the SQdFdC coating material. X-ray diffraction and infrared spectroscopy studies have shown that the composite core/shell particles displayed an intermediate behavior between that of pure magnetite and of pure SQdFdC nanoparticles, whereas dark-field, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy allowed clear demonstration of the core/shell structure. Electrophoresis measurements as a function of both pH and ionic strength, as well as thermodynamic consideration, showed similar behavior of core/shell and pure SQdFdC nanoparticles, suggesting again the coating of the magnetite core by the SQdFdC prodrug. The two important parameters to be controlled in the efficient adsorption of SQdFdC onto magnetite nanocores were the magnetite/SQdFdC weight ratio and the pluronic F-68 concentration. Pluronic F-68 was found to play a key role as a surfactant in the generation of stable composite core/shell nanoparticle suspensions. Finally, the characterization of the magnetic properties of these core/shell nanoparticles revealed that if the squalenoyl shell reduced the magnetic responsiveness of the particles, it kept unchanged their soft ferrimagnetic character. Thus, the heterogeneous structure of these nanoparticles could confer them both magnetic field responsiveness and potential applicability as a drug carrier for active targeting to solid tumors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry*
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Deoxycytidine / chemistry
  • Electrons
  • Kinetics
  • Magnetics*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Molecular Structure
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / ultrastructure
  • Spectrophotometry, Infrared
  • Squalene / analogs & derivatives*
  • Squalene / chemistry*
  • Surface Properties
  • Thermodynamics
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Deoxycytidine
  • Squalene
  • gemcitabine