Dopamine-conjugated apoferritin protein nanocage for the dual-targeting delivery of epirubicin

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Applied Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran

2 Department of Sciences, College of Basic Education, Al-Muthanna University, Al-Muthanna, Iraq

3 Faculty of Chemistry, Sensor and Biosensor Research Center and Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Research Center, Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran

4 Nano Drug Delivery Research Center, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Kermanshah, Iran

5 Department of Chemistry, Kermanshah Branch, Islamic Azad University, Kermanshah, Iran

6 Medical Biology Research Center, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Kermanshah, Iran


Objective(s): Nanocarriers are drug delivery vehicles, which have attracted the attention of researchers in recent years, particularly in cancer treatment. The encapsulation of anticancer drugs using protein nanocages is considered to be an optimal approach to reducing drug side-effects and increasing the bioavailability of anticancer drugs. Epirubicin (EPR) is an active chemotherapeutic medication used in the treatment of breast cancer. However, the toxicity of this drug against normal cells is a considerable limitation in therapy. EPR toxicity could be reduced using nanocarriers and dual-targeted drug delivery. Dual-targeted drug delivery system was developed by the conjugation of dopamine (DA) with horse spleen apoferritin (HsAFr)-encapsulated EPR to overcome the limitations of chemotherapeutic EPR in breast cancer treatment. HsAFr-EPR-DA complexes could target the scavenger receptors, transferrin receptors 1, and DA receptors, which are overexpressed on breast cancer cells.
Materials and Methods: UV-Visible, fluorescence, and circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopic techniques and transmission electronic microscope (TEM) have been applied to characterize HsAFr-EPR-DA complexes. In the present study, we utilized human breast cancer cell line (MCF-7), aiming to compare the cytotoxicity of HsAFr-EPR-DA complexes to free EPR.
Results: The toxicity was measured using the MTT assay, which demonstrated that the dual-targeted nanocarrier (HsAFr-EPR-DA) enhanced cytotoxicity against MCF-7 more significantly compared to non-targeted nanocarriers.
Conclusion: The findings of the current research indicated that the synthesized HsAFr-DA complex was an optimal nanocarrier for the dual-targeted delivery of anticancer drugs.


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