Targeted Polymeric Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery to Hypoxic, Triple-Negative Breast Tumors

Babak Mamnoon, Jagadish Loganathan, Matthew I. Confeld, Nimesha De Fonseka, Li Feng, Jamie Froberg, Yongki Choi, Daniel M. Tuvin, Venkatachalem Sathish, Sanku Mallik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


High recurrence and metastasis to vital organs are the major characteristics of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Low vascular oxygen tension promotes resistance to chemo- and radiation therapy. Neuropilin-1 (NRP-1) receptor is highly expressed on TNBC cells. The tumor-penetrating iRGD peptide interacts with the NRP-1 receptor, triggers endocytosis and transcytosis, and facilitates penetration. Herein, we synthesized a hypoxia-responsive diblock PLA-diazobenzene-PEG copolymer and prepared self-assembled hypoxia-responsive polymersomes (Ps) in an aqueous buffer. The iRGD peptide was incorporated into the polymersome structure to make hypoxia-responsive iRGD-conjugated polymersomes (iPs). Doxorubicin (DOX) was encapsulated in the polymersomes to prepare both targeted and nontargeted hypoxia-responsive polymersomes (DOX-iPs and DOX-Ps, respectively). The polymeric nanoparticles released less than 30% of their encapsulated DOX within 12 h under normoxic conditions (21% oxygen), whereas under hypoxia (2% oxygen) doxorubicin release remarkably increased to over 95%. The targeted polymersomes significantly decreased TNBC cells' viability in monolayer and spheroid cultures under hypoxia compared to normoxia. Animal studies displayed that targeted polymersomes significantly diminished tumor growth in xenograft nude mice. Overall, the targeted polymersomes exhibited potent antitumor activity in monolayer, spheroid, and animal models of TNBC. With further developments, the targeted nanocarriers discussed here might have the translational potential as drug carriers for the treatment of TNBC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1450-1460
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Bio Materials
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • hypoxia
  • nanoparticles
  • nanotechnology
  • polymersomes
  • targeted drug delivery


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