Intracellular Activation of a Prostate Specific Antigen-Cleavable Doxorubicin Prodrug: A Key Feature Toward Prodrug-Nanomedicine Design

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    L-377,202 prodrug (Dox-PSA) was in phase I clinical trials for patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). It consists of doxorubicin (Dox) conjugated to a prostate specific antigen (PSA)-cleavable peptide that can be selectively activated by secreted PSA at the tumor site. However, despite the initial promising results, further clinical testing with Dox-PSA was halted due to toxicity concerns emerging from non-PSA-specific cleavage, following systemic administration. In the present study, we have reported, for the first time, the intracellular activation of Dox-PSA, where Dox nuclear uptake was specific to C4-2B (PSA-expressing) cells, which agreed with the cytotoxicity studies. This finding was confirmed by encapsulating Dox-PSA prodrug into pH-sensitive liposomes to enable prodrug intracellular release, followed by its enzymatic activation. Interestingly, our results demonstrated that Dox-PSA loaded into pH-responsive nanoparticles exhibited cytotoxicity comparable to free prodrug in C4-2B monolayers, with superior activity in tumor spheroids, due to deeper penetration within tumor spheroids. Our approach could open the doors for novel Dox-PSA nanomedicines with higher safety and efficacy to treat advanced and metastatic prostate cancer.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
    Journal publication date25 Feb 2019
    Early online date25 Feb 2019
    Publication statusEarly online date - 25 Feb 2019

    ID: 166051834