Docetaxel-loaded RIPL peptide (IPLVVPLRRRRRRRRC)-conjugated liposomes: Drug release, cytotoxicity, and antitumor efficacy

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We previously synthesized the RIPL peptide (IPLVVPLRRRRRRRRC) to facilitate selective delivery into hepsin-expressing cancer cells and showed that RIPL peptide-conjugated liposomes (RIPL-L) enhanced the intracellular delivery of fluorescent probes in vitro. In this study, docetaxel-loaded RIPL-L (DTX-RIPL-L) were prepared and evaluated for in vitro drug release, cytotoxicity, and in vivo antitumor efficacy. DTX was successfully encapsulated by pre-loading, with an average encapsulation efficiency and drug loading capacity of 32.4% and 21.39 ± 2.05 (μg/mg), respectively. A DTX release study using dialysis showed a biphasic release pattern, i.e., rapid release for 6 h, followed by sustained release up to 72 h. The first-order equation provided the best fit for drug release (r2 = 0.9349). In vitro cytotoxicity was dose-dependent, resulting in IC50 values of 36.10 (SK-OV-3) and 48.62 ng/mL (MCF-7) for hepsin-positive, and 61.12 (DU145) and 53.04 ng/mL (PC-3) for hepsin-negative cell lines. Live/dead cell imaging was carried out to visualize the proportion of viable and nonviable SK-OV-3 cells. Compared to DTX solution, DTX-RIPL-L significantly inhibited tumor growth and prolonged survival time in BALB/c nude mice with SK-OV-3 cell tumors. We suggest that DTX-RIPL-L is a good candidate for efficient drug targeting to hepsin-expressing cancer cells.

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