Issue 19, 2023

MMP-responsive nanomaterials


Matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) are enzymes that degrade the extracellular matrix and regulate essential normal cell behaviors. Inhibition of these enzymes has been a strategy for anti-cancer therapy since the 1990s, but with limited success. A new type of MMP-targeting strategy exploits the innate selective hydrolytic activity and consequent catalytic signal amplification of the proteinases, rather than inhibiting it. Using nanomaterials, the enzymatic chemical reaction can trigger the temporal and spatial activation of the anti-cancer effects, amplify the associated response, and cause mechanical damage or report on cancer cells. We analyzed nearly 60 literature studies that incorporate chemical design strategies that lead to spatial, temporal, and mechanical control of the anti-cancer effect through four modes of action: nanomaterial shrinkage, induced aggregation, formation of cytotoxic nanofibers, and activation by de-PEGylation. From the literature analysis, we derived chemical design guidelines to control and enhance MMP activation of nanomaterials of various chemical compositions (peptide, lipid, polymer, inorganic). Finally, the review includes a guide on how multiple characteristics of the nanomaterial, such as substrate modification, supramolecular structure, and electrostatic charge should be collectively considered for the targeted MMP to result in optimal kinetics of enzyme action on the nanomaterial, which allow access to amplification and additional levels of spatial, temporal, and mechanical control of the response. Although this review focuses on the design strategies of MMP-responsive nanomaterials in cancer applications, these guidelines are expected to be generalizable to systems that target MMP for treatment or detection of cancer and other diseases, as well as other enzyme-responsive nanomaterials.

Graphical abstract: MMP-responsive nanomaterials

Article information

Article type
Review Article
15 May 2023
10 Aug 2023
First published
18 Aug 2023

Biomater. Sci., 2023,11, 6457-6479

MMP-responsive nanomaterials

J. Son, S. Parveen, D. MacPherson, Y. Marciano, R. H. Huang and R. V. Ulijn, Biomater. Sci., 2023, 11, 6457 DOI: 10.1039/D3BM00840A

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