PD-L1-targeted microbubbles loaded with docetaxel produce a synergistic effect for the treatment of lung cancer under ultrasound irradiation†
Immunotherapy is gradually becoming as important as traditional therapy in the treatment of cancer, but adverse drug reactions limit patient benefits from PD1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor drugs in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). As a chemotherapeutic drug for NSCLC, docetaxel (DTX) can synergize with PD1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors but increase haematoxicity and neurotoxicity. Herein, anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody (mAb)-conjugated and docetaxel-loaded multifunctional lipid-shelled microbubbles (PDMs), which were designed with biologically safe phospholipids to produce synergistic antitumour effects, reduced the incidence of side effects and promoted therapeutic effects under ultrasound (US) irradiation. The PDMs were prepared by the acoustic-vibration method and then conjugated with an anti-PD-L1 mAb. The material features of the microbubbles and their cytotoxic effects, cellular apoptosis and cell cycle inhibition were studied. A subcutaneous tumour model was established to test the drug concentration-dependent and antitumour effects of the PDMs combined with US irradiation, and an orthotopic lung tumour model simultaneously confirmed the antitumour effect of this synergistic treatment. The PDMs achieved higher cellular uptake than free DTX, especially when combined with US irradiation. The PDMs combined with US irradiation also induced an increased rate of cellular apoptosis and an elevated G2-M arrest rate in cancer cells, which was positively correlated with PD-L1 expression. An in vivo study showed that synergistic treatment had relatively strong effects on tumour growth inhibition, increased survival time and decreased adverse effect rates. Our study possibly provides a well-controlled design for immunotherapy and chemotherapy and has promising potential for clinical application in NSCLC treatment.