The pH-stimuli release behavior of nanoformulations may enhance the success rate of chemotherapeutic drugs in cancers by site-specific delivery of drugs to cancer tissues. The aim of the present study was to prepare chitosan (CS) nanoparticles (NPs) with previously synthesized folic acid (FA) capped silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) loaded with the anti-cancer drug gemcitabine (GEM) (FA-GEM-AgNPs). The CS-FA-GEM-AgNPs (CS-NPs) were characterized with dynamic light scattering (DLS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), energy dispersive x-ray analysis (EDAX), selected area electron diffraction (SAED), and differential scanning calorimetric (DSC) analyses. The in-vitro drug release of GEM was evaluated in media of different pH. The 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay was carried out to determine the cytotoxic effects of the prepared nanoformulations in media with various pH. The time- and pH-dependent apoptotic cell death induced by CS-NPs with MDA-MB-453 human breast cancer cell line was observed using acridine orange (AO)/ethidium bromide (EtBr) staining. The pharmacokinetic parameters were studied with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS). Two batches of CS-NPs formulations were prepared, one with AgNPs of particle size 143 nm and the other with 244 nm. The particle size for CS-NPs-I (FA-GEM-AgNPs-143 nm) and CS-NPs-II (FA-GEM-AgNPs-244 nm) was found to be 425 and 545 nm, respectively. The zeta potential was found to be 36.1 and 37.5 mV for CS-NPs-I and CS-NPs-II, respectively. CS-NPs-I and CS-NPs-II showed a polydispersity index (PDI) of 0.240 and 0.261, respectively. A TEM study confirmed the spherical nature of the NPs. The nanoformulations exerted pH-dependant effect against MDA-MB-453 cells with relatively higher cytotoxicity at the lower pH than at higher pH levels. The pharmacokinetic profile and tissue distribution of CS-NPs in rats exerted drug release in a pH-dependent manner with enhanced excretion of Ag+. An optimized nanoformulation for pH-stimuli responsive release of GEM was successfully developed for future therapeutic exploration.
Keywords: Breast cancer; Chitosan nanoparticles; Design of experiment; Gemcitabine; Optimization; Silver nanoparticles; pH-stimuli.
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