PEGylated doxorubicin nanoparticles mediated by HN-1 peptide for targeted treatment of oral squamous cell carcinoma

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HN-1, a 12-amino acid peptide, has been reported to possess strong capabilities for targeting and penetrating head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Here, we designed a simple but effective nanoparticle system for the delivery of doxorubicin (DOX) targeting oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) through the mediation of HN-1. PEGylated DOX (PD) was firstly synthesized by the conjugation of DOX with bis-amino-terminated poly(ethylene glycol) via succinyl linkage, and then PD nanoparticles were prepared by a modified nanoprecipitation method. After that, PD nanoparticles were surface-modified with HN-1 to form HNPD nanoparticles, which had a uniform spherical shape and a small size about 150 nm. In human OSCC cells (CAL-27 and SCC-25), HNPD nanoparticles exhibited significantly higher cellular uptakes and cytotoxicities than PD nanoparticles. Furthermore, HNPD nanoparticles showed a certain degree of functional selectivity for CAL-27 and SCC-25 cells as compared to human hepatoma HepG2 cells. In SCC-25 tumor-bearing nude mice, HNPD nanoparticles showed remarkably enhanced tumor-targeting and penetrating efficiencies as compared to PD nanoparticles, and effectively inhibited the tumor growth. In conclusion, our study demonstrated for the first time that HN-1 could be used for mediating the OSCC-targeted delivery of nanoparticles.Graphical abstract

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