Characterization of different carbon nanotubes for the development of a mucoadhesive drug delivery system for intravesical treatment of bladder cancer

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Graphical abstractIn order to increase the effectiveness of therapeutics for bladder carcinoma (BCa) treatment, alternative strategies for intravesical applications are needed. The use of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as basis for a multifunctional drug transporter is a promising possibility to combine traditional chemotherapeutics with innovative therapeutic agents such as antisense oligodeoxynucleotides or small interfering RNA. In the current study four CNT types varying in length and diameter (CNT-1, CNT-2, CNT-3, CNT-4) were synthesized and then characterized with different spectroscopic techniques. Compared to the pristine CNT-1 and CNT-3, the shortened CNT-2 and CNT-4 exhibited more defects and lower aspect ratios. To analyze their mucoadhesive properties, CNTs were exposed to mouse bladders ex vivo by using Franz diffusion cells. All four tested CNT types were able to adhere to the urothelium with a mean covering area of 5–10%. In vitro studies on UM-UC-3 and EJ28 BCa cells were conducted to evaluate the toxic potential of these CNTs. Viability and cytotoxicity assays revealed that the shortened CNT-2 and CNT-4 induced stronger inhibitory effects on BCa cells than CNT-1 and CNT-3. In conclusion, CNT-1 and CNT-3 showed the most promising properties for further optimization of a multifunctional drug transporter.

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