Doxorubicin-loaded chitosan-coated superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (Fe3O4; SPIO-NPs) were prepared by coprecipitation and emulsification cross-linking method and uniform NPs with an average particle size of 82 nm, with high encapsulation efficiencies, were obtained. The drug-loading efficiency of doxorubicin (3.2 mg/mg NPs) showed better results for the chitosan-loaded SPIO-NPs as compared to the bare ones (0.5 mg/mg; p < 0.05). The incubation of A2780 and OVCAR-3 human ovarian cancer cells with doxorubicin-loaded and doxorubicin-loaded chitosan-coated SPIO-NPs, for 24, 48, 72, 96, and 120 h, showed significant IC50 (2.0 ± 0.6 and 7.1 ± 2.7 mm doxorubicin) and IC90 (4.0 ± 9.2 and 10 ± 0.5 mm doxorubicin), respectively, after 96 h of incubation. While, 95% and 98% growth inhibition was seen in A2780 and OVCAR-3 cells after the 96-h exposure to the doxorubicin-chitosan-SPIO-NPs (p < 0.05). A 5-day (120 h) incubation with doxorubicin-chitosan-SPIO-NPs showed that A2780 and OVCAR-3 cells were able to uptake 120 and 110 pg iron/cell, respectively, when treated with doxorubicin-chitosan-SPIO-NPs for 72 h (p < 0.05).
Biodegradable DOX-loaded chitosan-coated SPIO-NPs (69 nm) were prepared, which caused 90% and 87.1% apoptosis in A2780 and OVCAR-3 cells, respectively. Chitosan-coated SPIO-NPs can be used as a better drug delivery system for cancer treatment with lower toxicity as compared to the drug itself.