Theranostics 2023; 13(6):1698-1711. doi:10.7150/thno.79342 This issue Cite
1. Department of Radiology, Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS), Stanford University, CA, U.S.A.
2. Stanford Center for Innovation in In Vivo Imaging (SCi 3 ) at Porter, Canary Center for Cancer Early Detection, Stanford University, CA, U.S.A.
3. Sarafan Chemistry, Engineering & Medicine for Human Health (Chem-H), Stanford University, Stanford, CA, U.S.A.
4. Stanford Center for Innovation in In Vivo Imaging (SCi 3 ) at Clark, James H. Clark Center, Stanford University, CA, U.S.A.
Rationale: As a cancer, Glioblastoma (GBM) is a highly lethal and difficult-to-treat. With the aim of improving therapies to GBM, we developed novel and target-specific theranostic nanoparticles (TNPs) that can be selectively cleaved by cathepsin B (Cat B) to release the potent toxin monomethyl auristatin E (MMAE).
Methods: We synthesized TNPs composed of a ferumoxytol-based nanoparticle carrier and a peptide prodrug with a Cat-B-responsive linker and the tubulin inhibitor MMAE. We hypothesized that intratumoral Cat B can cleave our TNPs and release MMAE to kill GBM cells. The ferumoxytol core enables in vivo drug tracking with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We incubated U87-MG GBM cells with TNPs or ferumoxytol and evaluated the TNP content in the cells with transmission electron microscopy and Prussian blue staining. In addition, we stereotaxically implanted 6- to 8-week-old nude mice with U87-MG with U87-MG GBM cells that express a fusion protein of Green Fluorescence Protein and firefly Luciferase (U87-MG/GFP-fLuc). We then treated the animals with an intravenous dose of TNPs (25 mg/kg of ferumoxytol, 0.3 mg/kg of MMAE) or control. We also evaluated the combination of TNP treatment with radiation therapy. We performed MRI before and after TNP injection. We compared the results for tumor and normal brain tissue between the TNP and control groups. We also monitored tumor growth for a period of 21 days.
Results: We successfully synthesized TNPs with a hydrodynamic size of 41 ± 5 nm and a zeta potential of 6 ± 3 mV. TNP-treated cells demonstrated a significantly higher iron content than ferumoxytol-treated cells (98 ± 1% vs. 3 ± 1% of cells were iron-positive, respectively). We also found significantly fewer live attached cells in the TNP-treated group (3.8 ± 2.0 px2) than in the ferumoxytol-treated group (80.0 ± 14.5 px2, p < 0001). In vivo MRI studies demonstrated a decline in the tumor signal after TNP (T2= 28 ms) but not control (T2= 32 ms) injections. When TNP injection was combined with radiation therapy, the tumor signals dropped further (T2 = 24 ms). The combination therapy of radiation therapy and TNPs extended the median survival from 14.5 days for the control group to 45 days for the combination therapy group.
Conclusion: The new cleavable TNPs reported in this work accumulate in GBM, cause tumor cell death, and have synergistic effects with radiation therapy.
Keywords: glioblastoma, theranostic, nanoparticles, MMAE, MRI