Janus nanocarrier-based co-delivery of doxorubicin and berberine weakens chemotherapy-exacerbated hepatocellular carcinoma recurrence
Zhang F, Jia Y, Zheng X, Shao D, Zhao Y, Wang Z, Dawulieti J, Liu W, Sun M, Sun W, Pan Y, Cui L, Wang Y, He K, Zhang M, Li J, Dong WF, Chen L
Acta Biomater. Sep 2019
Despite the rapid progress which has been made in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) chemotherapeutics, recurrence of liver cancer still remains a barrier to achieve satisfying prognosis. Herein, we aimed to decipher the role of berberine (BER) in chemotherapy-exacerbated HCC repopulation via developing a nanocarrier co-deliveries doxorubicin (DOX) and BER to achieve a synergic effect in HCC treatment. The underlying fact of chemotherapy that promotes HCC repopulation was firstly examined and corroborated by clinical samples and murine repopulation model. Then, hyaluronic acid (HA)-conjugated Janus nanocarrier (HA-MSN@DB) was developed to load DOX and BER simultaneously. The HCC targeting efficiency, pH-controlled drug-release and anti-cancer property of HA-MSN@DB were assessed in CD44-overexpressed HCCs and normal liver cells. Magnet resonance imaging, bio-distribution, biocompatibility, tumor and recurrence inhibition studies were performed in H22 tumor-bearing mice. BER significantly reduced doxorubicin (DOX)-triggered HCC repopulation in vitro and in vivo through inhibiting Caspase-3-iPLA2-COX-2 pathway. The delivery of HA-MSN@DB into HCCs through CD44 receptor-mediated targeting effect was demonstrated. The controlled release of DOX and BER in response to acidic tumor microenvironment was validated. Importantly, HA-MSN@DB drastically enhanced the antitumor activity of DOX and suppressed DOX-exacerbated HCC repopulation in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, HA-MSN@DB exhibited enhanced tumor accumulation and biocompatibility. Our findings revealed the pivotal role of BER in overcoming chemotherapy-exacerbated HCC repopulation through Caspase-3-iPLA2-COX-2 pathway, thereby providing a promising and stable nanocarrier integrating DOX and BER for effective HCC chemotherapy without repopulation. Statement of Significance In this work, we have first demonstrated the fact that berberine (Ber) reduces chemotherapy-exacerbated HCC recurrence and studied its mechanism by the aid of a doxorubicin-induced mice HCC relapse model. We then developed a promising strategy that simultaneously inhibits HCC and its recurrence with an HCC-targeted co-delivery nanocarrier HA-MSN@DB and revealed that such an inhibition was related with the suppression of Caspase-3-iPLA2-COX-2 pathway by berberine.