Synthesis, physico-chemical and biological characterization of a paclitaxel macromolecular prodrug

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Abstract

Paclitaxel was attached to poly(hydroxyethylaspartamide) via a succinic spacer arm by a two-step protocol: (1) synthesis of 2′-O-succinyl-paclitaxel; (2) synthesis of PHEA-2′-O-succinyl-paclitaxel. The 2′-O-succinyl-paclitaxel derivative and the macromolecular conjugate were characterized by UV, IR, NMR and mass spectrometry analysis. The reaction yields were over 95% and the purity of products over 98%. Paclitaxel release and degradation from 2′-O-succinyl-paclitaxel occurred at a faster rate at pH 5.5 than 7.4. After 30 h of incubation at pH 5.5 and 7.4 the released free paclitaxel was about 40 and 20%, respectively. In plasma both drug release and degradation were found to occur at a higher rate than in buffer at pH 7.4 suggesting that an enzymatic mechanism could be involved. The paclitaxel release and degradation from PHEA-2′-O-succinyl-paclitaxel were negligible at pH 5.5 and 7.4 and very slow in plasma. Investigation carried out using murine myeloid cell line showed that the polymeric prodrug maintains partial pharmacological activity of paclitaxel. The DL50 of the conjugate (over 40 ng/ml) as compared to free paclitaxel (about 1 ng/ml) was correlated to the slow drug release. Finally a pharmacokinetic study carried out by intravenous inoculation of the macromolecular prodrug to mice demonstrated that the polymer conjugation modify dramatically the in vivo fate of the drug. The conjugate disappeared from the bloodstream much more quickly as compared to both free drug and naked polymer. Massive accumulation of bioconjugate in the liver (80% of the dose) was found to persist throughout 1 week.

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