Functionalized magnetic nanoparticles as vehicles for the delivery of the antitumor drug gemcitabine to tumor cells. Physicochemical in vitro evaluation

Gemcitabine is a chemotherapy drug used in different carcinomas, although because it displays a short biological half-life, its plasmatic levels can quickly drop below the effective threshold. Nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems can provide an alternative approach for regulating the bioavailability of this and most other anticancer drugs. In this work we describe a new model of composite nanoparticles consisting of a core of magnetite nanoparticles, coated with successive layers of high molecular weight poly(acrylic acid) and chitosan, and a final layer of folic acid. The possibility of using these self-assembled nanostructures for gemcitabine vehiculization is explored. First, the surface charge of the composite particles is studied by means of electrophoretic mobility measurements as a function of pH for poly(acrylic acid) (carbopol) of different molecular weights. The adsorption of folic acid, aimed at increasing the chances of the particles to pass the cell membrane, is followed up by optical absorbance measurements, which were also employed for drug adsorption determinations. As a main result, it is shown that gemcitabine adsorbs onto the surface of chitosan/carbopol-coated magnetite nanoparticles. In vitro experiments show that the functionalized magnetic nanoparticles are able to deliver the drug to the nuclei of liver, colon and breast tumor cells.


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