In recent years, there has been considerable effort in designing improved delivery systems by including site-directed surface ligands to further enhance their selective targeting. The goal of this study is to engineer α5β1-targeted stealth liposomes (nanoparticles covered with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)) that will bind to α5β1-expressing LNCaP human prostate cancer cells and efficiently release the encapsulated load intracellularly. For this purpose, liposomes (with and without PEG2000) were functionalized with a fibronectin-mimetic peptide (PR_b) and delivered to LNCaPs. The amount of PEG2000 and other liposomal components were characterized by 1H NMR, and the amount of peptide by the bicinchoninic acid protein assay. Fibronectin is the natural ligand for α5β1, and a promising design for a fibronectin-mimetic peptide includes both the primary binding site (RGD) and the synergy site (PHSRN) connected by a linker and extended off a surface by a spacer. We have previously designed a peptide-amphiphile, PR_b, that employed a hydrophobic tail, connected to the N-terminus of a peptide headgroup composed of a spacer, the synergy site sequence, a linker mimicking both the distance and hydrophobicity/hydrophilicity present in the native protein fibronectin (thus presenting an overall “neutral” linker), and finally the primary binding sequence. We have examined different liposomal formulations, functionalized only with PR_b or with PR_b and PEG2000. For PR_b-targeted PEGylated liposomes, efficient cell binding was observed for peptide concentrations of 2 mol % and higher. When compared to GRGDSP-targeted stealth liposomes, PR_b functionalization was superior to that of GRGDSP as shown by increased LNCaP binding, internalization efficiency, as well as cytotoxicity after incubation of LNCaPs with tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα)-encapsulated liposomes. More importantly, PR_b is α5β1-specific, whereas many integrins bind to small RGD peptides. Thus, the proposed PR_b-targeted delivery system has the potential to deliver a therapeutic payload to prostate cancer cells in an efficient and specific manner.
- Demirgöz, D., Garg, A., and Kokkoli, E. "PR_b-Targeted PEGylated Liposomes for Prostate Cancer Therapy", Langmuir, 2008, 24 (23): 13518-13524.
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