Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are increasingly considered a viable target for tumor imaging and therapy. Previously, we reported that innovative surface-functionalization of nanoparticles may help target them to TAMs. In this report, using poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid (PLGA) nanoparticles incorporated with doxorubicin (DOX) (DOX-NPs), we studied the effect of surface-modification of the nanoparticles with mannose and/or acid-sensitive sheddable polyethylene glycol (PEG) on the biodistribution of DOX and the uptake of DOX by TAMs in tumor-bearing mice. We demonstrated that surface-modification of the DOX-NPs with both mannose and acid-sensitive sheddable PEG significantly increased the accumulation of DOX in tumors, enhanced the uptake of the DOX by TAMs, but decreased the distribution of DOX in mononuclear phagocyte system (MPS), such as liver. We also confirmed that the acid-sensitive sheddable PEGylated, mannose-modified DOX-nanoparticles (DOX-AS-M-NPs) targeted TAMs because depletion of TAMs in tumor-bearing mice significantly decreased the accumulation of DOX in tumor tissues. Furthermore, in a B16-F10 tumor-bearing mouse model, we showed that the DOX-AS-M-NPs were significantly more effective than free DOX in controlling tumor growth but had only minimum effect on the macrophage population in mouse liver and spleen. The AS-M-NPs are promising in targeting cytotoxic or macrophage-modulating agents into tumors to improve tumor therapy.
Keywords: cell uptake; ex vivo imaging; immunohistochemical staining; macrophage depletion; tumor growth inhibition.