Exploring the transformability of polymer-lipid hybrid nanoparticles and nanomaterial-biology interplay to facilitate tumor penetration, cellular uptake and intracellular targeting of anticancer drugs

Expert Opin Drug Deliv. 2021 Jul;18(7):991-1004. doi: 10.1080/17425247.2021.1902984. Epub 2021 Mar 30.


Background: Successful delivery of anticancer drugs to intracellular targets requires different properties of the nanocarrier to overcome multiple transport barriers. However, few nanocarrier systems, to date, possess such properties, despite knowledge about the biological fate of inorganic and polymeric nanocarriers in relation to their fixed size, shape and surface properties. Herein, a polymer-lipid hybrid nanoparticle (PLN) system is described with size and shape transformability and its mechanisms of cellular uptake and intracellular trafficking are studied.

Methods: Pharmaceutical lipids were screened for use in transformable PLN. Mechanisms of cellular uptake and the role of fatty acid-binding proteins in intracellular trafficking of PLN were investigated in breast cancer cells. Intra-tumoral penetration and retention of doxorubicin (DOX) were evaluated by confocal microscopy.

Results: The lead PLNs showed time-dependent size reduction and shape change from spherical to spiky shape. This transformability of PLNs and lipid trafficking pathways facilitated intracellular transport of DOX-loaded PLN (DOX-PLN) into mitochondria and nuclei. DOX-PLN significantly increased DOX penetration and retention over free DOX or non-transformable liposomal DOX particles at 4 h post-intravenous administration.

Conclusion: Transformability of PLN and lipid-biology interplay can be exploited to design new nanocarriers for effective drug delivery to tumor cells and intracellular targets.

Keywords: Transformable size and shape; cellular uptake; fatty acid-binding protein; intracellular trafficking; polymer-lipid hybrid nanoparticles; tumor penetration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Biology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacology
  • Drug Carriers
  • Humans
  • Lipids
  • Nanoparticles*
  • Nanostructures*
  • Polymers


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Drug Carriers
  • Lipids
  • Polymers
  • Doxorubicin

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