Anti-HER2 immunoliposomes for co-delivery of paclitaxel and rapamycin for breast cancer therapy
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. Paclitaxel (PTX) is used for its treatment, however non-selectivity, rapid systemic clearance and hypersensitivity to the commercially available formulation are major drawbacks. Rapamycin (RAP), an mTOR inhibitor, acts synergistically with PTX, and thus could be used in combination with it. Drug loading into nanocarriers, particularly liposomes, has proven to enhance efficacy and reduce side-effects of chemotherapeutic drugs. Within this context, the functionalization of liposomes with antibodies for overexpressed receptors on tumor surface is a potential strategy to increase specificity and reduce side-effects. Specifically, active targeting of HER2(+) breast cancer cells can be achieved by immunoliposomes consisting of liposomes coated with an anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody, Trastuzumab. Herein, we have synthesized PTX/RAP co-loaded immunoliposomes coated with Trastuzumab, performed physicochemical characterization, and evaluated the formulations for cytotoxicity and uptake in 4T1 (triple negative) and SKBR3 (HER2 positive) cell lines. Furthermore, we aimed to compare the immunoliposomes with liposomes and solution of PTX/RAP in vivo, employing human xenograft HER2-overexpressing tumors in mouse model. The co-loaded immunoliposomes had a mean particle size of 140.3 nm, a zeta potential of −9.85 mV and drug encapsulation efficiency of 55.87 and 69.51, respectively for PTX and RAP. The functionalization efficiency of Trastuzumab was higher than 70% and the antibody retained HER2 binding activity. Cell studies showed increased cytotoxicity of PTX/RAP for the immunoliposome, compared to the control liposomes in SKBR3 cells, which could be attributed to enhanced uptake mediated through HER2 binding. Furthermore, immunoliposomes were better able to control tumor growth in vivo, with tumor volume averages corresponding to 25.27, 44.38 and 47.78% of tumor volumes of untreated control, PTX/RAP solution and control liposomes, respectively. Taken together, our results support the clinical development of immunoliposomes for targeted delivery of PTX and RAP to HER2-positive breast cancer.