Theranostics 2019; 9(14):4066-4083. doi:10.7150/thno.33383

Research Paper

Enhanced cytotoxic T lymphocytes recruitment targeting tumor vasculatures by endoglin aptamer and IP-10 plasmid presenting liposome-based nanocarriers

Xiaomei Yang*, Jing Zhao*, Siliang Duan*, Xiaoqiong Hou, Xi Li, Zixi Hu, Zhuoran Tang, Fengzhen Mo, Xiaoling Lu

Nanobody Research Center/School of Preclinical Medicine, Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, Guangxi, 530021, China
*These authors contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Yang X, Zhao J, Duan S, Hou X, Li X, Hu Z, Tang Z, Mo F, Lu X. Enhanced cytotoxic T lymphocytes recruitment targeting tumor vasculatures by endoglin aptamer and IP-10 plasmid presenting liposome-based nanocarriers. Theranostics 2019; 9(14):4066-4083. doi:10.7150/thno.33383. Available from

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Background: Adequate recruitment of highly active tumor antigen-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) remains a major challenge in cancer immunotherapy.

Objective: To construct liposome (LP)-based nanocapsules with surface endoglin aptamer (ENG-Apt) encapsulating mouse interferon-inducible protein-10 (mIP-10), with the ability to target mouse tumor vascular endothelial cells (mTECs) and enhance CTLs targeting and recruitment to the tumor vasculature.

Methods: ENG-Apt/mIP-10-LP nanocapsules were prepared by grafting DSPE-PEG2000-ENG-Apt on the surface of liposomes containing mIP-10 plasmids, characterized and assessed for the cell binding specificity in vitro. The tumor-targeting ability of ENG-Apt/mIP-10-LP nanocapsules was evaluated in vivo. The anti-tumor efficacy of ENG-Apt/mIP-10-LP nanocapsules treatment, as well as the combination treatment of ENG-Apt/mIP-10-LP nanocapsules and adoptive TRP2CD8+ T cells, were both tested in melanoma-bearing mice, by evaluation of the tumor volume and the mouse survival time. To discuss the anti-tumoral mechanism of ENG-Apt/mIP-10-LP nanocapsules-based therapies, IFN-γ secretion, proportion of TRP2CD8+ T cells among TILs, MDSCs in the tumor microenvironment and Tregs in the spleen, were determined after the treatments. Proliferation and apoptosis of tumor cells, and tumor angiogenesis were also assessed.

Results: The prepared ENG-Apt/mIP-10-LP nanocapsules possess an adequate nanometric size, good stability, high specificity to mTECs and tumor sites, along with the ability to induce mIP-10 expression in vitro and in vivo. Treatment of ENG-Apt/mIP-10-LP nanocapsules demonstrated CTLs enrichment into the tumor site, which inhibited tumor cell proliferation and angiogenesis, as well as promoted tumor-cell apoptosis, leading to a decrease in tumor progression and prolonged survival time in melanoma tumor-bearing mice. In addition, the proportion of MDSCs and Tregs was found to decrease. The combination of ENG-Apt/mIP-10-LP nanocapsules with adoptive TRP2CD8+ T cells, showed stronger abilities in inhibiting tumor growth and increasing animal survival time, thereby displayed an enhanced anti-melanoma tumor efficacy, due to the recruitment of both endogenous CD8+ T cells and exogenous TRP2CD8+ T cells in vivo.

Conclusion: ENG-Apt/mIP-10-LP nanocapsules could enhance the recruitment of both endogenous and exogenous CTLs specifically targeting melanoma tumor vasculatures and exert anti-tumoral effect, therefore provides a potentially novel strategy for tumor immunotherapy.

Keywords: Endoglin aptamer, IP-10, nanocarriers, tumor vasculatures