A novel doxorubicin-mitomycin C co-encapsulated nanoparticle formulation exhibits anti-cancer synergy in multidrug resistant human breast cancer cells

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2010 Jan;119(2):255-69. doi: 10.1007/s10549-008-0271-3. Epub 2009 Feb 17.


Anthracycline-containing treatment regimens are currently the most widely employed regimens for the management of breast cancer. These drug combinations are often designed based on non-cross resistance and minimal overlapping toxicity rather than drug synergism. Moreover, aggressive doses are normally used in chemotherapy to achieve a greater therapeutic benefit at the cost of more acute and long-term toxic effects. To increase chemotherapeutic efficacy while decreasing toxic effects, rational design of drug synergy-based regimens is needed. Our previous work showed a synergistic effect of doxorubicin (DOX) and mitomycin C (MMC) on murine breast cancer cells in vitro and improved efficacy and reduced systemic toxicity of DOX-loaded solid polymer-lipid hybrid nanoparticles (PLN) in animal models of breast cancer. Herein we have demonstrated true anticancer synergy of concurrently applied DOX and MMC, and have rationally designed PLN to effectively deliver this combination to multidrug resistant (MDR) MDA435/LCC6 human breast cancer cells. DOX-MMC co-loaded PLN were effective in killing MDR cells at 20-30-fold lower doses than the free drugs. This synergistic cell killing was correlated with enhanced induction of DNA double strand breaks that preceded apoptosis. Importantly, co-encapsulation of dual agents into a nanoparticle formulation was much more effective than concurrent application of single agent-containing PLN, demonstrating the requirement of simultaneous uptake of both drugs by the same cells to enhance the drug synergy. The rationally designed combination chemotherapeutic PLN can overcome multidrug resistance at a significantly lower dose than free drugs, exhibiting the potential to enhance chemotherapy and reduce the therapeutic limitations imposed by systemic toxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Biological Transport
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • DNA Damage
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacology
  • Drug Compounding
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple / drug effects*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Mitomycin / pharmacology
  • Nanoparticles*
  • Solubility
  • Time Factors


  • Mitomycin
  • Doxorubicin