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Preparation and Characterization of Lipophilic Doxorubicin Pro-drug Micelles

Published: August 2nd, 2016



1School of Pharmacy, Hampton University

A protocol for the preparation and characterization of lipophilic doxorubicin pro-drug loaded 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine-N-[amino(polyethylene glycol)-2000] (DSPE-PEG) micelles is described.

Micelles have been successfully used for the delivery of anticancer drugs. Amphiphilic polymers form core-shell structured micelles in an aqueous environment through self-assembly. The hydrophobic core of micelles functions as a drug reservoir and encapsulates hydrophobic drugs. The hydrophilic shell prevents the aggregation of micelles and also prolongs their systemic circulation in vivo. In this protocol, we describe a method to synthesize a doxorubicin lipophilic pro-drug, doxorubicin-palmitic acid (DOX-PA), which will enhance drug loading into micelles. A pH-sensitive hydrazone linker was used to conjugate doxorubicin with the lipid, which facilitates the release of free doxorubicin inside cancer cells. Synthesized DOX-PA was purified with a silica gel column using dichloromethane/methanol as the eluent. Purified DOX-PA was analyzed with thin layer chromatography (TLC) and 1H-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (1H-NMR). A film dispersion method was used to prepare DOX-PA loaded DSPE-PEG micelles. In addition, several methods for characterizing micelle formulations are described, including determination of DOX-PA concentration and encapsulation efficiency, measurement of particle size and distribution, and assessment of in vitro anticancer activities. This protocol provides useful information regarding the preparation and characterization of drug-loaded micelles and thus will facilitate the research and development of novel micelle-based cancer nanomedicines.

Chemotherapy is commonly used to treat various forms of cancers. Most, if not all, chemotherapy drugs have toxic side effects which may vary from manageable minor conditions, such as nausea and diarrhea, to more life threatening conditions. Because most anticancer drugs are toxic, non-selective exposure of these drugs to normal tissue inevitably causes toxicity. Therefore, there is a great need for a therapeutic approach that can selectively deliver drugs into cancer cells. Another challenge with the administration of anticancer drugs is their poor water solubility. Usually, solubilizing agents are needed to formulate these poorly soluble drugs. However, most solubili....

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1. Synthesis of DOX-PA

  1. Weigh 390 mg of doxorubicin and 243 mg of palmitic acid hydrazide, and transfer to a round bottom flask.
  2. Add 150 ml of anhydrous methanol to the flask with a glass syringe. Add 39 µl of trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) with a pipette. Using a magnetic stirrer, stir the reaction mixture for 18 hr at RT in the dark.
    NOTE: The quantities of reaction materials can be scaled up or down to obtain different amounts of DOX-PA. The ratio of reactants should be ma.......

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Figure 1 shows the synthesis scheme of DOX-PA. DOX-PA was synthesized by conjugation of palmitic acid with doxorubicin through a pH-sensitive hydrazone bond. A slight excess of palmitic acid hydrazide was used to facilitate the completion of the reaction. This reaction method has a very high efficiency and only a small amount of doxorubicin remained after an 18 hr reaction (Figure 2). The yield was approximately 88%. At the end of the reaction, DOX-PA was.......

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In this work, we describe an uncomplicated, rapid film-dispersion method for the preparation of micelles. This method utilizes the self-assembly properties of an amphiphilic polymer (e.g., DSPE-PEG) to form core-shell structured micelles in an aqueous environment. This micelle preparation method has several advantages. 1. It involves a simple formulation process, which avoids the use of complicated size-reduction steps (such as extrusion or homogenization) commonly used in the preparation of liposomes, nanoparti.......

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This work was supported by the following grants: NIH-SC3 grant, NSF-PREM grant, Hampton University Faculty Research Grant. We would like to thank Mrs. Michele A. Cochran at Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) for the use of the particle size analyzer. We would also like to thank Mrs. Corinne R. Ramaley for reviewing the manuscript.


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
DSPE-PEG2K Cordenpharm LP-R4-039 >95%
Doxorubicin LC Laboratories D-4000 >99%
Palmitic Acid Hydrazide TCI AMERICA   P000425G >98.0%
Methanol ACROS Organics 610981000 Anhydrous
Methylene chloride  FISHER  D151-4 99.90%
Methyl sulfoxide-d6 ACROS Organics AC320760075 NMR solvent
Trifluoroacetic Acid  ACROS Organics AC293811000 99.50%
Silica Gel FISHER  L-7446 230-400 mesh
DPBS Sigma-Aldrich D8537
DU 145  Prostate Cancer Cells ATCC HTB-81
MTT ACROS Organics 158990050 98%
RPMI 1640 Medium MEDIATECH INC  10041CV
Antibiotic-Antimycotic  LIFE TECHNOLOGIES  15240062 100x stock solution
Fetal Bovine Serum LIFE TECHNOLOGIES  10437077
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Varian, Inc 300 NMR 
Büchi R-3 Rotavapor Buchi 1103022V1  Rotary evaporator
UV-VIS spectrometer Biomate 3 Thermo Spectronic
Zetasizer Nano ZS90  Malvern Instruments Particle Size Analyer
Microplate Spectrophotometer  Rio-Rad Benchmark Plus 
Cell Culture Incubator Napco CO2 6000
Biological Safety Cabinet Nuaire
SigmaPlot  Systat Software, Inc. Analytical Software
96-Well Cell Culture Plate Becton Dickinson 353072
Trypsin  0.25% Corning Cellgro 25-053-CI

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