Surface charge tunable catanionic vesicles based on serine-derived surfactants as efficient nanocarriers for the delivery of the anticancer drug doxorubicin
Self-assembled vesicles composed of amino acid-based cationic/anionic surfactant mixtures show promise as novel effective drug nanocarriers. Here, we report the in vitro performance of vesicles based on cationic (16Ser) and anionic (8–8Ser) serine-based surfactants using a cancer cell model for the delivery of the anticancer drug doxorubicin (DOX). This catanionic mixture yields both negatively (0.20 in the cationic surfactant molar fraction, x16Ser) and positively (x16Ser = 0.58) charged vesicles, hence providing a surface charge tunable system. Low toxicity is confirmed for concentration ranges below 32 μM in both formulations. DOX is successfully encapsulated in the vesicles, resulting in a surface charge switch to negative for the (0.58) system, making both (0.20) and (0.58) DOX-loaded vesicles highly interesting for systemic administration. High uptake by cells was demonstrated using flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. Drug accumulation results in an increase of cell uptake up to 250% and 200% for the (0.20) and (0.58) vesicles, respectively, compared to free DOX and with localizations near the nuclear regions in the cells. The in vitro cytotoxicity studies show that DOX-loaded vesicles induce cell death, confirming the therapeutic potential of the formulations. Furthermore, the efficient accumulation of the drug inside the cell compartments harbors the potential for optimization strategies including phased delivery for prolonged treatment periods or even on-demand release.