The intrinsic characteristics of the tumor microenvironment (TME), including acidic pH and overexpression of hydrolytic enzymes, offer an exciting opportunity for the rational design of TME-drug delivery systems (DDS). We developed and characterized a pH-responsive biodegradable poly-L-glutamic acid (PGA)-based combination conjugate family with the aim of optimizing anticancer effects. We obtained combination conjugates bearing Doxorubicin (Dox) and aminoglutethimide (AGM) with two Dox loadings and two different hydrazone pH-sensitive linkers that promote the specific release of Dox from the polymeric backbone within the TME. Low Dox loading coupled with a short hydrazone linker yielded optimal effects on primary tumor growth, lung metastasis (∼90% reduction), and toxicological profile in a preclinical metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) murine model. The use of transcriptomic analysis helped us to identify the molecular mechanisms responsible for such results including a differential immunomodulation and cell death pathways among the conjugates. This data highlights the advantages of targeting the TME, the therapeutic value of polymer-based combination approaches, and the utility of -omics-based analysis to accelerate anticancer DDS.
Keywords: Metastatic triple-negative breast cancer; Polymer therapeutics; Polymer-based combination conjugates; Polypeptides; Transcriptomics; Tumor microenvironment.
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