Protease-mediated release of chemotherapeutics from mesoporous silica nanoparticles to ex vivo human and mouse lung tumors

ACS Nano. 2015 Mar 24;9(3):2377-89. doi: 10.1021/nn5070343. Epub 2015 Mar 2.


Nanoparticles allow for controlled and targeted drug delivery to diseased tissues and therefore bypass systemic side effects. Spatiotemporal control of drug release can be achieved by nanocarriers that respond to elevated levels of disease-specific enzymes. For example, matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) is overexpressed in tumors, is known to enhance the metastatic potency of malignant cells, and has been associated with poor prognosis of lung cancer. Here, we report the synthesis of mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) tightly capped by avidin molecules via MMP9 sequence-specific linkers to allow for site-selective drug delivery in high-expressing MMP9 tumor areas. We provide proof-of-concept evidence for successful MMP9-triggered drug release from MSNs in human tumor cells and in mouse and human lung tumors using the novel technology of ex vivo 3D lung tissue cultures. This technique allows for translational testing of drug delivery strategies in diseased mouse and human tissue. Using this method we show MMP9-mediated release of cisplatin, which induced apoptotic cell death only in lung tumor regions of Kras mutant mice, without causing toxicity in tumor-free areas or in healthy mice. The MMP9-responsive nanoparticles also allowed for effective combinatorial drug delivery of cisplatin and proteasome inhibitor bortezomib, which had a synergistic effect on the (therapeutic) efficiency. Importantly, we demonstrate the feasibility of MMP9-controlled drug release in human lung tumors.

Keywords: bortezomib; cisplatin; combination treatment; controlled drug delivery; ex vivo 3D lung tissue cultures; lung cancer; matrix metalloproteinase-9; mesoporous silica nanoparticles; nanomedicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bortezomib / chemistry
  • Bortezomib / pharmacology
  • Bortezomib / therapeutic use
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cisplatin / chemistry
  • Cisplatin / pharmacology
  • Cisplatin / therapeutic use
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • Drug Carriers / metabolism
  • Drug Liberation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Particle Size
  • Porosity
  • Silicon Dioxide / chemistry*
  • Tissue Culture Techniques


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Drug Carriers
  • Bortezomib
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9
  • Cisplatin