Insight into the role of dual-ligand modification in low molecular weight heparin based nanocarrier for targeted delivery of doxorubicin

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Low molecular weight heparin nanoparticles (LMWH) modified by glycyrrhetinic acid (GA) (LMWH-GA) and further decorated by lactobionic acid (LA) (LA-LMWH-GA) were reported as novel hepatocellular carcinoma (HPC)-targeted carriers to overcome multidrug resistance (MDR) of doxorubicin (DOX). The drug-loaded nanoparticles had negative charge of around −25 mV and average size range of 70–170 nm. These nanoparticles performed sustained drug release in vitro and prolonged DOX residence time in blood circulation in vivo. Compared to free DOX, DOX-loaded nanoparticles demonstrated increased DOX accumulation in drug-resistance HepG2/ADR cells and enhanced in vitro therapeutic efficacy. However, DOX/LA-LMWH-GA with dual ligands didn't show higher cellular uptake and cytotoxicity than single GA modified DOX/LMWH-GA, although both GA-mediated and LA-mediated endocytosis were involved in their cell internalization. Uptake pathway inhibition study revealed the less efficacy of DOX/LA-LMWH-GA in cellular level could be attributed to the reduced effect of micropinocytosis and caveolae-mediated endocytosis in cellular uptake. Interestingly, the DOX-loaded nanoparticles developed from lower drug/carrier feeding ratio possessed higher performance in cell internalization and in vitro efficacy compared to those developed from higher drug/carrier feeding ratio, which could highlight the role of carrier in drug delivery process.

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