A Journey From the Endothelium to the Tumor Tissue: Distinct Behavior Between PEO-PCL Micelles and Polymersomes Nanocarriers

Drug Deliv. 2018 Nov;25(1):1766-1778. doi: 10.1080/10717544.2018.1510064.


Polymeric nanocarriers must overcome several biological barriers to reach the vicinity of solid tumors and deliver their encapsulated drug. This study assessed the in vitro and in vivo passage through the blood vessel wall to tumors of two well-characterized polymeric nanocarriers: poly(ethyleneglycol-b-ε-caprolactone) micelles and polymersomes charged with a fluorescent membrane dye (DiO: 3,3'-dioctadecyloxacarbo-cyanine perchlorate). The internalization and translocation from endothelial (human primary endothelial cells HUVEC) to cancer cells (human tumor cell line HCT-116) was studied in conventional 2D monolayers, 3D tumor spheroids, or in an endothelium model based on transwell assay. Micelles induced a faster DiO internalization compared to polymersomes but the latter crossed the endothelial monolayer more easily. Both translocation rates were enhanced by the addition of a pro-inflammatory factor or in the presence of tumor cells. These results were confirmed by early in vivo experiments. Overall, this study pointed out the room for the improvement of polymeric nanocarriers design to avoid drug losses when crossing the blood vessel walls.

Keywords: Nanocarriers; drug delivery; endothelium; polymers; self-assembly; translocation; tumor.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Colonic Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Colonic Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Drug Carriers* / chemistry
  • Endothelium, Vascular* / metabolism
  • Female
  • HCT116 Cells
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Micelles*
  • Nanoparticles* / chemistry
  • Polyesters / chemistry*


  • Drug Carriers
  • Micelles
  • Polyesters
  • polyethylene oxide-polycaprolactone copolymer