Aptamer-conjugated nano-liposome for immunogenic chemotherapy with reversal of immunosuppression

J Control Release. 2022 Aug:348:893-910. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2022.06.039. Epub 2022 Jun 29.


Cancer cells have various immune evasion mechanisms that resist the immune cells by reprogramming the tumor microenvironment (TME), such as programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase-1 (IDO1) overexpression. One of the approaches to restore antitumor immune response by T-cells is through induction of immunogenic cell death (ICD). Thus, drug carrier containing IDO1 siRNA and ICD inducer would be effective anticancer regimen to modulate the immunosuppressive TME by reversing the IDO1-mediated immunosuppression in a synergistic combination with ICD induction. However, numerous nanocarrier platforms for co-delivery of multiple drugs mostly depend on the enhanced permeation and retention (EPR), which is insufficient to achieve selectivity in tumor sites harboring various types of cells. We designed a targeted drug delivery system using nano-sized liposomes functionalized with anti-CD44 and anti-PD-L1 DNA aptamers, which target breast cancer cells and inhibit PD-1/PD-L1 interaction between cancer cells and T-cells. To reverse immunosuppressive TME and reactivate immune response, cancer-targeting nano-liposomes were prepared to contain immunogenic cell death inducer (Doxorubicin, DOX) and IDO1 siRNA, namely Aptm[DOX/IDO1]. The Aptm[DOX/IDO1] specifically delivered the loaded DOX and IDO1 siRNA into target breast cancer cells through aptamer-mediated endocytosis. Cancer-targeted DOX/IDO1 siRNA delivery enhanced ICD and suppressed IDO1 expression with significantly high toxicity in cancer cells. We demonstrated that Aptm[DOX/IDO1] could achieve synergistic antitumor effects by facilitating ICD response and simultaneous reversal of the immunosuppressive TME with IDO1 knockdown in the subcutaneous breast cancer model mice, thus reducing tumor size. These antitumor effects were exerted with intratumoral infiltration of CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocyte as well as attenuation of regulatory T-cell recruitment in the tumor sites. We further proved that our Aptm[DOX/IDO1] strategy significantly reduced tumor metastasis in tumor-xenograft mice through a synergistic combination of cancer cell-targeted ICD induction and reversal of the IDO1-mediated immunosuppressive TME. Our nanocarrier platform based on cationic liposomes containing DOX and IDO1 siRNA, which are conjugated with two DNA aptamers targeting the cancer cell surface, accomplished synergistic chemoimmunotherapy through tumor-specific immune modulation into immune-favorable TME in vivo.

Keywords: Aptamer; Immunogenic cell death; Nano-liposome; Tumor microenvironment; cancer-targeting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents*
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Doxorubicin
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy
  • Liposomes
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide
  • Liposomes
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Doxorubicin