Biodegradable polymeric micelle-encapsulated quercetin suppresses tumor growth and metastasis in both transgenic zebrafish and mouse models
Quercetin (Que) loaded polymeric micelles were prepared to obtain an aqueous formulation of Que with enhanced anti-tumor and anti-metastasis activities. A simple solid dispersion method was used, and the obtained Que micelles had a small particle size (about 31 nm), high drug loading, and high encapsulation efficiency. Que micelles showed improved cellular uptake, an enhanced apoptosis induction effect, and stronger inhibitory effects on proliferation, migration, and invasion of 4T1 cells than free Que. The enhanced in vitro antiangiogenesis effects of Que micelles were proved by the results that Que micelles significantly suppressed proliferation, migration, invasion, and tube formation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Subsequently, transgenic zebrafish models were employed to investigate anti-tumor and anti-metastasis effects of Que micelles, in which stronger inhibitory effects of Que micelles were observed on embryonic angiogenesis, tumor-induced angiogenesis, tumor growth, and tumor metastasis. Furthermore, in a subcutaneous 4T1 tumor model, Que micelles were more effective in suppressing tumor growth and spontaneous pulmonary metastasis, and prolonging the survival of tumor-bearing mice. Besides, immunohistochemical and immunofluorescent assays suggested that tumors in the Que micelle-treated group showed more apoptosis, fewer microvessels, and fewer proliferation-positive cells. In conclusion, Que micelles, which are synthesized as an aqueous formulation of Que, possess enhanced anti-tumor and anti-metastasis activity, which can serve as potential candidates for cancer therapy.