News Release

Changeable net charge on nanoparticles facilitates intratumor accumulation and penetration

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Innovation Center of NanoMedicine

May 9, 2022 – Kawasaki, Japan

Innovation Center of NanoMedicine (Director General: Prof. Kazunori Kataoka) has announced that Prof. Nobuhiro Nishiyama (Principal Research Scientist of iCONM and Professor of Tokyo Institute of Technology) et al. have published a research article focusing on the development of nanomedicines, which can be selectively delivered to tumor tissues and penetrate into their deeper sites such as hypoxic areas, on Journal of Controlled Release on May 1st. The Enhanced Permeability and Retention (EPR) effect is a golden strategy for the nanoparticle (NP)-based targeting of solid tumors, and the surface property of NPs might be a determinant on their targeting efficiency. Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) is commonly used as a shell material; however, it has been pointed out that PEG-coated NPs may exhibit accumulation near tumor vasculature rather than having homogenous intratumor distribution. The PEG shell plays a pivotal role on prolonged blood circulation of NPs but potentially impairs the intratumor retention of NPs. In this study, we report on a shell material to enhance tumor-targeted delivery of NPs by maximizing the EPR effect: polyzwitterion based on ethylenediamine-based carboxybetaine [PGlu(DET-Car)], which shows the changeable net charge responding to surrounding pH. The net charge of PGlu(DET-Car), is neutral at physiological pH 7.4, allowing it to exhibit a stealth property during the blood circulation; however, it becomes cationic for tissue-interactive performance under tumorous acidic conditions owing to the stepwise protonation behavior of ethylenediamine. Indeed, the PGlu(DET-Car)-coated NPs (i.e., gold NPs in the present study) exhibited prolonged blood circulation and remarkably enhanced tumor accumulation and retention than PEG-coated NPs, achieving 32.1% of injected dose/g of tissue, which was 4.2 times larger relative to PEG-coated NPs. Interestingly, a considerable portion of PGlu(DET-Car)-coated NPs clearly penetrated into deeper tumor sites and realized the effective accumulation in hypoxic regions, probably because the cationic net charge of PGlu(DET-Car) is augmented in more acidic hypoxic regions. This study suggests that the changeable net charge on the NP surface in response to tumorous acidic conditions is a promising strategy for tumor-targeted delivery based on the EPR effect.

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