The tumor targetability and stimulus responsivity of drug delivery systems are crucial in cancer diagnosis and treatment. In this study, hepatoma-targeting mixed micelles composed of a hyaluronic acid-glycyrrhetinic acid conjugate and a hyaluronic acid-l-histidine conjugate (HA-GA/HA-His) were prepared through ultrasonic dispersion. The formation and characterization of the mixed micelles were confirmed via ¹H-NMR, particle size, and ζ potential measurements. The in vitro cellular uptake of the micelles was evaluated using human liver carcinoma (HepG2) cells. The antitumor effect of doxorubicin (DOX)-loaded micelles was investigated in vitro and in vivo. Results indicated that the DOX-loaded HA-GA/HA-His micelles showed a pH-dependent controlled release and were remarkably absorbed by HepG2 cells. Compared with free DOX, the DOX-loaded HA-GA/HA-His micelles showed a higher cytotoxicity to HepG2 cells. Moreover, the micelles effectively inhibited tumor growth in H22 cell-bearing mice. These results suggest that the HA-GA/HA-His mixed micelles are a good candidate for drug delivery in the prevention and treatment of hepatocarcinoma.
Keywords: glycyrrhetinic acid; hepatoma-targeting; hyaluronic acid; micelle.