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Self-organized environment-sensitive inulin-doxorubicin conjugate with a selective cytotoxic effect towards cancer cells

  • Autori: Mauro, N.; Campora, S.; Scialabba, C.; Adamo, G.; Licciardi, M.; Ghersi, G.; Giammona, G.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2015
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


An inulin-based random copolymer bearing high dose doxorubicin (18.45% on a weight basis), INU-EDA-P, C-DOXO, was prepared by coupling doxorubicin with inulin though a citraconylamide bridge used as a pH sensitive spacer. A further conjugation with pentynoic acid via an amidic bond led to the hydrophobization of the copolymer which allows the acquisition of a self-assembling ability at low concentration (0.33 mg mL(-1)) combining both Pi-Pi stacking and London interactions. Drug release studies were carried out at different pH demonstrating a remarkable pH dependency, where the maximum release rate was observed at pH mimicking cancer tissue and lysosomal environments. Besides, by measuring zeta-potential variations as a function of the pH, INU-EDA-P, C-DOXO proved capable of undergoing charge reversal at acidic pH, changing its physicochemical and biological behavior. In vitro tests with cancer (MDA-MB 231) and normal (HB-2) breast cells were carried out to verify the conjugate aptitude to follow different routes to enter cells depending on the microenvironment. This finding was supported by quantitative up-take studies, which revealed that INU-EDA-P, C-DOXO released doxorubicin before entering cancer cells, as the entire copolymer diffused across normal cell membranes without relevant modifications.