Indexed on: 11 Jul '12Published on: 11 Jul '12Published in: Molecular Pharmaceutics
The current clinical mainstays for cancer treatment, namely, surgical resection, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, can cause significant trauma, systemic toxicity, and functional/cosmetic debilitation of tissue, especially if repetitive treatment becomes necessary due to tumor recurrence. Hence there is significant clinical interest in alternate treatment strategies like photodynamic therapy (PDT) which can effectively and selectively eradicate tumors and can be safely repeated if needed. We have previously demonstrated that the second-generation photosensitizer Pc 4 (silicon phthalocyanine 4) can be formulated within polymeric micelles, and these micelles can be specifically targeted to EGFR-overexpressing cancer cells using GE11 peptide ligands, to enhance cell-specific Pc 4 delivery and internalization. In the current study, we report on the in vitro optimization of the EGFR-targeting, Pc 4 loading of the micellar nanoformulation, along with optimization of the corresponding photoirradiation conditions to maximize Pc 4 delivery, internalization, and subsequent PDT-induced cytotoxicity in EGFR-overexpressing cells in vitro. In our studies, absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy were used to monitor the cell-specific uptake of the GE11-decorated Pc 4-loaded micelles and the cytotoxic singlet oxygen production from the micelle-encapsulated Pc 4, to determine the optimum ligand density and Pc 4 loading. It was found that the micelle formulations bearing 10 mol % of GE11-modified polymer component resulted in the highest cellular uptake in EGFR-overexpressing A431 cells within the shortest incubation periods. Also, the loading of ∼ 50 μg of Pc 4 per mg of polymer in these micellar formulations resulted in the highest levels of singlet oxygen production. When formulations bearing these optimized parameters were tested in vitro on A431 cells for PDT effect, a formulation dose containing 400 nM Pc 4 and photoirradiation duration of 400 s at a fluence of 200 mJ/cm(2) yielded close to 100% cell death.