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Tumor-targeted pH-low insertion peptide delivery of theranostic gadolinium nanoparticles for image-guided nanoparticle-enhanced radiation therapy

Liu, W., Deacon, J., yan, H.

Tumor targeting studies using metallic nanoparticles (NPs) have shown that the enhanced permeability and retention effect may not be sufficient to deliver the amount of intratumoral and intracellular NPs needed for effective in vivo radiosensitization. This work describes a pH-Low Insertion Peptide (pHLIP) targeted theranostic agent to enable image-guided NP-enhanced radiotherapy using a clinically feasible amount of injected NPs. Conventional gadolinium (Gd) NPs were conjugated to pHLIPs and evaluated in vitro for radiosensitivity and in vivo for mouse MRI. Cultured A549 human lung cancer cells were incubated with 0.5 mM of pHLIP-GdNP or conventional GdNP. Mass spectrometry showed 78-fold more cellular Gd uptake with pHLIP-GdNPs, and clonogenic survival assays showed 44% more enhanced radiosensitivity by 5 Gy irradiation with pHLIP-GdNPs at pH 6.2. In contrast to conventional GdNPs, MR imaging of tumor-bearing mice showed pHLIP-GdNPs had a long retention time in the tumor (>9 h), suitable for radiotherapy, and penetrated into the poorly-vascularized tumor core. The Gd-enhanced tumor corresponded with low-pH areas also independently measured by an in vivo molecular MRI technique. pHLIPs actively target cell surface acidity from tumor cell metabolism and deliver GdNPs into cells in solid tumors. Intracellular delivery enhances the effect of short-range radiosensitizing photoelectrons and Auger electrons. Because acidity is a general hallmark of tumor cells, the delivery is more general than antibody targeting. Imaging the in vivo NP biodistribution and more acidic (often more aggressive) tumors has the potential for quantitative radiotherapy treatment planning and pre-selecting patients who will likely benefit more from NP radiation enhancement.

Keywords: Cell internalization; MRI; Metallic nanoparticle radiosensitization; Radiation physics; Targeting acidic tumor microenvironment.

Citation

Liu, W., Deacon, J., yan, H. "Tumor-targeted pH-low insertion peptide delivery of theranostic gadolinium nanoparticles for image-guided nanoparticle-enhanced radiation therapy" Translational Oncology (2020): DOI: 10.1016/j.tranon.2020.100839