Prodrug-based stimuli-responsive vectors have emerged as highly promising platform. Inspired by the fact that antioxidant systems including glutathione (GSH) make cancer cells adapt to oxidative stress and play a role in the inactivation of alkylating agents like chlorambucil (CHL) inside tumor cells, while arylboronic acid could transform into GSH depleting agent quinone methide (QM) upon degradation by reactive oxygen species (ROS) over-expressed in tumor cells, a ROS-responsive nanoprodrug (denoted by PPAHC) of CHL was established by integrating CHL into diols-containing hydrophilic polymer with self-immolative linker 4-(hydroxymethyl)phenylboronic acid (HPBA). The prodrug could form core-shell nanoparticle and possess high stability during storage. Drug release profile of PPAHC nanoprodrug demonstrated that nature CHL could be quickly released from PPAHC nanoprodrug in the presence of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Moreover, PPAHC nanoprodrug showed improved therapeutic efficiency compared to CHL via anti-proliferative study and cell apoptosis assay. Further measurement of GSH content and ROS levels in tumor cells suggested that the synergistic impact resulted from QM-mediated GSH reduction and CHL-induced further oxidative stress insults to tumor cells. In vivo tumor suppression effect and biocompatibility indicated the superiorities of PPAHC nanoprodrug. Accordingly, PPAHC provides a new approach as a ROS-responsive CHL delivery system and has a great potential for cancer therapy.Graphical abstract
Schematic illustration of intracellular H2O2-triggered drug release and QM generation.