Abundant existence of extracellular matrix biological hydrogels in solid tumors precludes most therapeutics to arrive at intracellular target sites, which is probably one of the threatened reasons of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) for public health. In this study, we designed a rod-shaped protocell nanoparticle loading with doxorubicin hydrochloride (Dox) and indocyanine green (ICG), denoted as Dox/ICG-RsPNs, for enhanced chemo-photothermal PDAC treatment. The enhanced therapeutic efficacy was achieved by successively enhancing penetration across matrix hydrogels, endocytosis, increasing local temperature under laser irradiation and hyperthermia-triggered Dox release to nucleus. We found that RsPNs with rod shape could easily penetrate across matrix hydrogel, exerting excellent tumor accumulation. Then RsPNs was internalized effectively by BxPC-3 cells via a caveolin-mediated endocytosis pathway. In addition, ICG endowed the Dox/ICG-RsPNs with photothermal effect and the photothermal conversion efficiency was calculated for 16.2%. Under irradiation, a great number of Dox transported to the nucleus via hyperthermia-induced release. Furthermore, we found that the relative tumor volume of Dox/ICG-RsPNs was merely 1.37 under irradiation at the end of pharmacodynamic studies, which was significantly lower than that of other groups. These findings will provide a promise on the rational design of drug delivery system for effective chemo-photothermal combination therapy to treat PDAC.
Keywords: chemo-photothermal therapy; matrix biological hydrogels; rod-shaped protocells; successive delivery process; tumor penetration.
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