Profiling target engagement and cellular uptake of cRGD-decorated clinical-stage core-crosslinked polymeric micelles

Federica De Lorenzi, Larissa Yokota Rizzo, Rasika Daware, Alessandro Motta, Maike Baues, Matthias Bartneck, Michael Vogt, Marc van Zandvoort, Leonard Kaps, Qizhi Hu, Marielle Thewissen, Luca Casettari, Cristianne J.F. Rijcken, Fabian Kiessling, Alexandros Marios Sofias, Twan Lammers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Polymeric micelles are increasingly explored for tumor-targeted drug delivery. CriPec® technology enables the generation of core‐crosslinked polymeric micelles (CCPMs) based on thermosensitive (mPEG-b-pHPMAmLacn) block copolymers, with high drug loading capacity, tailorable size, and controlled drug release kinetics. In this study, we decorated clinical-stage CCPM with the αvβ3 integrin-targeted cyclic arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (cRGD) peptide, which is one of the most well-known active targeting ligands evaluated preclinically and clinically. Using a panel of cell lines with different expression levels of the αvβ3 integrin receptor and exploring both static and dynamic incubation conditions, we studied the benefit of decorating CCPM with different densities of cRGD. We show that incubation time and temperature, as well as the expression levels of αvβ3 integrin by target cells, positively influence cRGD-CCPM uptake, as demonstated by immunofluorescence staining and fluorescence microscopy. We demonstrate that even very low decoration densities (i.e., 1 mol % cRGD) result in increased engagement and uptake by target cells as compared to peptide-free control CCPM, and that high cRGD decoration densities do not result in a proportional increase in internalization. In this context, it should be kept in mind that a more extensive presence of targeting ligands on the surface of nanomedicines may affect their pharmacokinetic and biodistribution profile. Thus, we suggest a relatively low cRGD decoration density as most suitable for in vivo application. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
JournalDrug Delivery and Translational Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Core-crosslinked polymeric micelles
  • CriPec
  • Cyclic arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (cRGD)
  • Nanomedicine
  • Nanoparticles
  • Tumor targeting


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