pH-Sensitive nanoparticles as smart carriers for selective intracellular drug delivery to tumor

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Herein, a smart pH-sensitive nanoparticle (DGL-PEG-Tat-KK-DMA-DOX) was prepared to achieve the selective intracellular drug delivery. In this nanoparticle, a PEG-grafted cell penetrating peptide (PEG-Tat-KK) was designed and acted as the cell penetrating segment. By introducing the pH-sensitive amide bonds between the peptide and blocking agent (2,3-dimethylmaleic anhydride, DMA), the controllable moiety (PEG-Tat-KK-DMA) endowed the nanoparticle with a charge-switchable shell and temporarily blocked penetrating function, thus improving the specific internalization. Besides, dendrigraft poly-L-lysine (DGL) used as the skeleton can greatly improve the drug loading because of the highly dendritic framework. Under the stimuli of acidic pH, this nanoparticle exhibited a remarkable charge-switchable property. The drug release showed an expected behavior with little release in the neutral pH media but relatively fast release in the acidic media. The in vitro experiments revealed that the cellular uptake and cytotoxicity were significantly enhanced after the pH was decreased. In vivo biodistribution and antitumor research indicated that the nanoparticle had noteworthy specificity and antitumor efficacy with a tumor inhibition rate of 79.7%. These results verified this nanoparticle could efficiently improve the selective intracellular delivery and possessed a great potential in tumor treatment.

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