Theranostics 2021; 11(14):7057-7071. doi:10.7150/thno.60427 This issue

Research Paper

Macrophage-mediated tumor homing of hyaluronic acid nanogels loaded with polypyrrole and anticancer drug for targeted combinational photothermo-chemotherapy

Tingting Xiao, Wei Hu, Yu Fan, Mingwu Shen, Xiangyang Shi

State Key Laboratory for Modification of Chemical Fibers and Polymer Materials, Shanghai Engineering Research Center of Nano-Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine, College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Donghua University, Shanghai 201620, People's Republic of China.

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Xiao T, Hu W, Fan Y, Shen M, Shi X. Macrophage-mediated tumor homing of hyaluronic acid nanogels loaded with polypyrrole and anticancer drug for targeted combinational photothermo-chemotherapy. Theranostics 2021; 11(14):7057-7071. doi:10.7150/thno.60427. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Rationale: Development of nanosystems that can be integrated with macrophages (MAs), an emerging carrier system, for effective tumor therapy remains to be challenging. We report here the development of MAs specifically loaded with hyaluronic acid (HA) nanogels (NGs) encapsulated with a photothermal agent of polypyrrole (PPy) and anticancer drug doxorubicin (DOX) (HA/DOX@PPy NGs) for tumor homing and combination photothermo-chemotherapy.

Methods: Cystamine dihydrochloride-crosslinked HA NGs were first prepared through a double emulsification method, then loaded with PPy via an in-situ oxidization polymerization and physically encapsulated with DOX. The created HA/DOX@PPy NGs were well characterized and subjected to be endocytosed by MAs (MAs-NGs). The MAs-mediated tumor-homing property, phenotype changes and photothermal performance of MAs-NGs were investigated in vitro, and a subcutaneous tumor model was also established to confirm their targeting capability and enhanced antitumor therapy effect in vivo.

Results: The generated hybrid NGs possess a size around 77 nm and good colloidal stability, and can be specifically endocytosed by MAs without appreciably affecting their normal biofunctionalities. In particular, NG-loaded MAs display excellent in-vitro cancer cell and in-vivo tumor homing property. Systemic administration of the MAs-NGs leads to the significant inhibition of a subcutaneous tumor model through combination photothermo-chemotherapy under laser irradiation.

Conclusions: The developed hybrid HA-based NG nanosystem incorporated with PPy and DOX fully integrates the coordination and heating property of PPy to regulate the optimized DOX release in the tumor region with the assistance of MA-mediated tumor homing, providing a promising cell therapy strategy for enhanced antitumor therapy.

Keywords: macrophages, hyaluronic acid nanogels, polypyrrole, tumor homing property, photothermo-chemotherapy