Highly-controllable drug release from core cross-linked singlet oxygen-responsive nanoparticles for cancer therapy†
Highly-controllable release consisting of preventing unnecessary drug leakage at physiologically normal tissues and triggering sufficient drug release at tumor sites is the main aim of nanoparticle-based tumor therapy. Developing drug-conjugation strategies with covalent bonds in response to a characteristic stimulus, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by photodynamic therapy (PDT) has attracted much attention. ROS can not only cause cytotoxicity, but also trigger the cleavage of ROS-responsive linkers. Therefore, it is feasible to design a new model of controlled drug release via the breakage of ROS-responsive linkers and degradation of nanoparticles. The self-supply of the stimulus and highly-controllable drug release can be achieved by encapsulation of photosensitizer (PS) and chemotherapeutic drugs simultaneously without any support of tumor endogenous stimuli. Therefore, we used thioketal (TK) linkers as the responsive linkers due to their reaction with singlet oxygen (1O2, SO), a type of ROS. They were conjugated to the side groups of polyphosphoesters (PPE) via click chemistry to acquire the core cross-linked SO-responsive PPE nanoparticles poly(thioketal phosphoesters) (TK-PPE). TK-PPE coated with the photosensitizer chlorin e6 (Ce6) and chemotherapeutic drug doxorubicin (DOX) simultaneously were prepared and named as TK-PPECe6&DOX. TK-PPECe6&DOX kept stable due to the high stability of the TK-linkers in the normal physiological environment. With self-production of SO as the stimulating factor from the encapsulated Ce6, highly-controlled drug release was achieved. After incubation of tumor cells, 660 nm laser irradiation induced SO generation, resulting in the cleavage of TK-linkers and boosted-release of DOX. Highly-controllable drug release of TK-PPECe6&DOX through self-production of stimulus increased antitumor efficacy, offering a promising avenue for clinical on-demand chemotherapy.