Use of antioxidant nanoliposomes for co-delivery of PTEN plasmids and plumbagin to induce apoptosis in hepatic cancer cells

Biomed Mater. 2024 Feb 5;19(2). doi: 10.1088/1748-605X/ad1dff.


Hepatocellular carcinoma remains a challenging contributor to the global cancer and related mortality, and claims approximately 800,000 deaths each year. Dysregulation or loss of function mutations involving the tumor suppressor gene, phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome ten (PTEN), has been well-characterized in various cancers to elicit anomalous cell proliferation and oncogenic transformation. However, the delivery and bioavailability of genes/drugs of interest to carcinomas remains a serious bottleneck behind the success of any anti-cancer formulation. In this study, we have engineered nanoliposomes containing PTEN plasmids, plumbagin, and antioxidant cerium oxide nanoparticles (Lipo-PTEN-Plum) to restore the PTEN expression and inhibit the AKT/PI3K pathway. The Lipo-PTEN-Plum was quasi-spherical in shape with ∼110 nm diameter and ∼64% plumbagin loading efficiency. The Lipo-PTEN-Plum was successfully internalized HepG2 cells, restore PTEN expression and inhibit PI3K/AKT pathway to induce death in cells grown in monolayer and in form of spheroids. Mechanistically, the formulation showed G2/M cell cycle arrest, DNA damage and apoptosis in hepatic cancer cells. Other cellular events such as Caspase-7 overexpression and PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase), AKT (a serine/threonine protein kinase), PARP [Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerases], and mTOR (Mammalian target of rapamycin) inhibition led to the apoptosis in hepatic cancer cells. The mRNA expression profile of PTEN, PI3K, AKT3, Caspase-7, PARP and mTOR proteins, primarily controlling the cancer cell proliferation and apoptosis, suggest that exogenous supply of PTEN could regulate the expression of oncogenic proteins and thus cancer progression.

Keywords: PTEN expression; Plumbagin; antioxidant nanoliposomes; cerium oxide nanoparticles; hepatic cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants
  • Apoptosis
  • Caspase 7 / genetics
  • Caspase 7 / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Liver Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Naphthoquinones*
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / genetics
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases* / genetics
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases* / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases* / pharmacology
  • Plasmids
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / pharmacology
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism


  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Caspase 7
  • Antioxidants
  • plumbagin
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • PTEN protein, human
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • Naphthoquinones