cRGD-decorated biodegradable polytyrosine nanoparticles for robust encapsulation and targeted delivery of doxorubicin to colorectal cancer in vivo

J Control Release. 2019 May 10;301:110-118. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2019.03.005. Epub 2019 Mar 18.


The clinical success of nanomedicines demands on the development of simple biodegradable nanocarriers that can efficiently and stably encapsulate chemotherapeutics while quickly release the payloads into target cancer cells. Herein, we report that cRGD-decorated biodegradable polytyrosine nanoparticles (cRGD-PTN) boost encapsulation and targeted delivery of doxorubicin (DOX) to colorectal cancer in vivo. The co-assembly of poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(L-tyrosine) (PEG-PTyr) and cRGD-functionalized PEG-PTyr (mol/mol, 80/20) yielded small-sized cRGD-PTN of 70 nm. Interestingly, cRGD-PTN exhibited an ultra-high DOX encapsulation with drug loading contents ranging from 18.5 to 54.1 wt%. DOX-loaded cRGD-PTN (cRGD-PTN-DOX) was highly stable against dilution, serum, and Triton X-100 surfactant, while quickly released DOX in HCT-116 cancer cells, likely resulting from enzymatic degradation of PTyr. Flow cytometry, confocal microscopy and MTT assays displayed that cRGD-PTN-DOX was efficiently internalized into αvβ5 overexpressing HCT-116 colorectal cancer cells, rapidly released DOX into the nuclei, and induced several folds better antitumor activity than non-targeted PTN-DOX and clinically used liposomal DOX (Lipo-DOX). SPECT/CT imaging revealed strong tumor accumulation of 125I-labeled cRGD-PTN, which was 2.8-fold higher than 125I-labeled PTN. Notably, cRGD-PTN-DOX exhibited over 5 times better toleration than Lipo-DOX and significantly more effective inhibition of HCT-116 colorectal tumor than non-targeted PTN-DOX control, affording markedly improved survival rate in HCT-116 tumor-bearing mice with depleting side effects at 6 or 12 mg DOX equiv./kg. cRGD-PTN-DOX with great simplicity, robust drug encapsulation and efficient nucleic drug release appears promising for targeted chemotherapy of colorectal tumor.

Keywords: Biodegradable nanoparticles; Enzyme-responsive; Polypeptide; SPECT/CT imaging; Targeted cancer therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / administration & dosage*
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / pharmacokinetics
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage*
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacokinetics
  • Drug Carriers / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Carriers / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Nanoparticles / administration & dosage*
  • Peptides / administration & dosage*
  • Peptides / pharmacokinetics
  • Peptides, Cyclic / administration & dosage*
  • Peptides, Cyclic / pharmacokinetics
  • Polyethylene Glycols / administration & dosage
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Drug Carriers
  • Peptides
  • Peptides, Cyclic
  • cyclic arginine-glycine-aspartic acid peptide
  • polytyrosine
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Doxorubicin