Theranostics 2017; 7(3):703-716. doi:10.7150/thno.16794

Research Paper

Intracellularly Swollen Polypeptide Nanogel Assists Hepatoma Chemotherapy

Bo Shi1*, Kexin Huang1*, Jianxun Ding2*, Weiguo Xu2✉, Yu Yang1, Haiyan Liu1✉, Lesan Yan3✉, Xuesi Chen2

1. Center for Biological Experiment, College of Basic Medicine, Jilin University, Changchun 130021, People's Republic of China;
2. Key Laboratory of Polymer Ecomaterials, Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changchun 130022, People's Republic of China.
3. Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6321, United States of America.
*These authors contributed equally to this work.


Nowadays, chemotherapy is one of the principal modes of treatment for tumor patients. However, the traditional formulations of small molecule drugs show short circulation time, low tumor selectivity, and high toxicity to normal tissues. To address these problems, a facilely prepared, and pH and reduction dual-responsive polypeptide nanogel was prepared for selectively intracellular delivery of chemotherapy drug. As a model drug, doxorubicin (DOX) was loaded into the nanogel through a sequential dispersion and dialysis technique, resulting in a high drug loading efficiency (DLE) of 96.7 wt.%. The loading nanogel, defined as NG/DOX, exhibited a uniform spherical morphology with a mean hydrodynamic radius of 58.8 nm, pH and reduction dual-triggered DOX release, efficient cell uptake, and cell proliferation inhibition in vitro. Moreover, NG/DOX exhibited improved antitumor efficacy toward H22 hepatoma-bearing BALB/c mouse model compared with free DOX·HCl. Histopathological and immunohistochemical analyses were implemented to further confirm the tumor suppression activity of NG/DOX. Furthermore, the variations of body weight, histopathological morphology, bone marrow cell micronucleus rate, and white blood cell count verified that NG/DOX showed excellent safety in vivo. With these excellent properties in vitro and in vivo, the pH and reduction dual-responsive polypeptide nanogel exhibits great potential for on-demand intracellular delivery of antitumor drug, and holds good prospect for future clinical application.

Keywords: Polypeptide Nanogel, Stimuli-Responsiveness, Intracellular Drug Delivery, Hepatoma Chemotherapy.

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How to cite this article:
Shi B, Huang K, Ding J, Xu W, Yang Y, Liu H, Yan L, Chen X. Intracellularly Swollen Polypeptide Nanogel Assists Hepatoma Chemotherapy. Theranostics 2017; 7(3):703-716. doi:10.7150/thno.16794. Available from