ROS-sensitive biomimetic nanocarriers modulate tumor hypoxia for synergistic photodynamic chemotherapy
Tumor hypoxia, which is indispensable to tumor propagation and therapy resistance, has been one of the most important factors influencing clinical outcomes. To modulate the hypoxia microenvironment, we herein developed reactive oxygen species (ROS)-sensitive arylboronic ester-based biomimetic nanocarriers co-encapsulated with a photosensitizer chlorin e6 (Ce6) and a hypoxia-activated prodrug tirapazamine (TPZp) for tumor-specific release and synergistic photodynamic chemotherapy. In order to bypass macrophage uptake and improve tumor penetration, the nanocarriers were further modified with the red blood cell membrane and iRGD peptide (denoted as NPs@i-RBMCe6+TPZp). After administration, NPs@i-RBMCe6+TPZp exhibited prolonged blood circulation, selective tumor accumulation and excellent penetration into the tumor interior. Upon light irradiation, ROS were generated by Ce6 for photodynamic therapy (PDT), which subsequently caused dissociation of the ROS-responsive nanocarriers. An enhanced therapeutic effect was further achieved through the activation of TPZp in the aggravated local hypoxia microenvironment. The synergistic cancer therapy based on NPs@i-RBMCe6+TPZp significantly suppressed tumor growth with negligible side effects. The biomimetic nanocarriers have great potential to overcome hypoxia-limited PDT, and significantly improve the anticancer efficacy by synergistic tumor-targeted PDT and hypoxia-activated chemotherapy.