Theranostics 2019; 9(2):337-354. doi:10.7150/thno.29026

Research Paper

Low Molecular Weight Heparin-Coated and Dendrimer-Based Core-Shell Nanoplatform with Enhanced Immune Activation and Multiple Anti-Metastatic Effects for Melanoma Treatment

Chunyu Xia, Sheng Yin, Shanshan Xu, Guangyao Ran, Miao Deng, Ling Mei, Xian Tang, Jingdong Rao, Man Li, Zhirong Zhang, Qin He

Key Laboratory of Drug Targeting and Drug Delivery Systems, West China School of Pharmacy, Sichuan University, No. 17, Block 3, Southern Renmin Road, Chengdu 610041, China.

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Xia C, Yin S, Xu S, Ran G, Deng M, Mei L, Tang X, Rao J, Li M, Zhang Z, He Q. Low Molecular Weight Heparin-Coated and Dendrimer-Based Core-Shell Nanoplatform with Enhanced Immune Activation and Multiple Anti-Metastatic Effects for Melanoma Treatment. Theranostics 2019; 9(2):337-354. doi:10.7150/thno.29026. Available from

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High-efficiency treatment for tumor is not easy to achieve owing to the existence of metastasis, which remains the arch-criminal of most tumor deaths. Conventional chemotherapy exhibits insufficient inhibitory efficiency on tumor metastasis and more powerful strategies to conquer metastatic tumors are urgently needed. In this study, a rational chemoimmunotherapy strategy was adopted to treat highly aggressive melanoma based on a newly developed multifunctional nanoplatform. Firstly, immunoadjuvant cytosine-phosphate-guanine oligonucleotides (CpG ODNs) were used to boost the doxorubicin (DOX)-elicited immune responses, which synergistically suppressed tumor growth and metastasis. And the anti-metastatic low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) was also integrated, thus multiple anti-metastatic effects to against tumor metastasis were achieved.

Methods: G4 PAMAM was serving as the main support to conjugate DOX by pH-sensitive hydrazone bond (PPD) and the synthesized conjugates were confirmed by 1H-NMR spectra, IR spectra and HRMS. Immunoadjuvant CpG ODNs were loaded by electrostatic adsorption to formulate PPD/CpG. After the coating of anti-metastatic LMWH, the designed LMWH/PPD/CpG was fabricated and characterized. The platelets-related and platelets-unrelated anti-metastatic mechanisms were investigated on B16F10 melanoma cells. The capacity of DOX to elicit immunogenic cell death (ICD) on B16F10 melanoma cells was examined by flow cytometry, laser scanning confocal microscope and immumohistochemical staining. Then the immune activation effects, anti-tumor and anti-metastatic efficacy of LMWH/PPD/CpG were evaluated on a B16F10 melanoma xenograft model.

Results: DOX elicited tumor-specific immune responses by ICD, and the immunological effects could be further promoted by CpG ODNs, exhibiting enhanced maturation of dendritic cells (DCs) and increased level of cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTLs) in vivo. Owing to the coating of LMWH, the platelets-induced epithelial-mesenchymal-like transition of tumor cells was hindered and the actin cytoskeletal arrangement of tumor cells was affected, thus the migration ability of tumor cells was further inhibited. This multifunctional nanoplatform showed enhanced treatment efficiency on melanoma primary tumor and pulmonary metastasis.

Conclusion: The immune activation and multiple anti-metastatic effects of LMWH/PPD/CpG establish a novel therapeutic strategy for melanoma. This anti-metastatic nanoplatform could be broadly applied for the co-delivery of other nucleic acids and chemotherapeutic drugs to treat highly aggressive tumors.

Keywords: immunogenic cell death, PAMAM, low molecular weight heparin, multiple anti-metastatic, pH sensitive