The therapeutic index of anti-cancer drugs is increased when encapsulating them in tumor-targeted liposomes. Liposome-entrapped doxorubicin (DXR), targeting the tumor vasculature marker, aminopeptidase N (APN), displayed enhanced anti-tumor effects and prolonged survival in human neuroblastoma (NB)-bearing mice. Here we exploited a peptide ligand of aminopeptidase A (APA), discovered by phage display technology for delivery of liposomal DXR to perivascular tumor cells. Immunohistochemistry, performed in NB-bearing mice, showed APA expression in the vascular wall of NB primary and metastatic lesions. APA-targeted peptides displayed specific binding to APA-transfected cells in vitro, and also accumulation in the tumor of NB-bearing mice. Consequently, novel, APA-targeted, DXR-liposomes were developed and in vivo proof-of-principle was established, alone and in combination with APN-targeted DXR-loaded liposomes, in NB-bearing mice.Mice receiving APA-targeted liposomal DXR exhibited an increased life span in comparison to control mice, but to a lesser extent relative to that in mice treated with APN-targeted formulation, moreover the greatest increase in TUNEL-positive tumor cells was observed in animals treated with APN-targeted formulations. Mice treated with a combination of APA- and APN-targeted, liposomal DXR had a significant increase in life span compared to each treatment administered separately. There was a significant increase in the level of apoptosis in the tumors of mice on the combination therapy, and a pronounced destruction of the tumor vasculature with nearly total ablation of endothelial cells and pericytes. The availability of novel ligands binding to additional tumor vasculature-associated antigens will allow the design of sophisticated combinations of ligand-targeted liposomal anti-cancer drugs.
- Combination therapy
- Vascular-disrupting agent
- Vasculature-targeted liposomes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmaceutical Science