Doxorubicin-loaded liposomes surface engineered with the matrix metalloproteinase-2 cleavable polyethylene glycol conjugate for cancer therapy

Anis Askarizadeh, Mohammad Mashreghi, Elaheh Mirhadi, Farshad Mirzavi, Vahid Heravi Shargh (Corresponding), Ali Badiee, Seyedeh Hoda Alavizadeh, Leila Arabi, Mahmoud Reza Jaafari (Corresponding)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Colorectal cancer is one of the prominent leading causes of fatality worldwide. Despite recent advancements within the field of cancer therapy, the cure rates and long-term survivals of patients suffering from colorectal cancer have changed little. The application of conventional chemotherapeutic agents like doxorubicin is limited by some drawbacks such as cardiotoxicity and hematotoxicity. Therefore, nanotechnology has been exploited as a promising solution to address these problems. In this study, we synthesized and compared the anticancer efficacy of doxorubicin-loaded liposomes that were surface engineered with the 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine-matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) cleavable peptide-polyethylene glycol (PEG) conjugate. The peptide linker was used to cleave in response to the upregulated MMP-2 in the tumor microenvironment, thus exposing a positive charge via PEG-deshielding and enhancing liposomal uptake by tumor cells/vasculature. Liposomal formulations were characterized in terms of size, surface charge and morphology, drug loading, release properties, cell binding and uptake, and cytotoxicity. Results: The formulations had particle sizes of ~ 100–170 nm, narrow distribution (PDI ˂ 0.2), and various surface charges (− 10.2 mV to + 17.6 mV). MMP-2 overexpression was shown in several cancer cell lines (C26, 4T1, and B16F10) as compared to the normal NIH-3T3 fibroblast cells by gelatin zymography and qRT-PCR. In vitro results demonstrated enhanced antitumor efficacy of the PEG-cleavable cationic liposomes (CLs) as compared to the commercial Caelyx ® (up to fivefold) and the chick chorioallantoic membrane assay showed their great antiangiogenesis potential to target and suppress tumor neovascularization. The pharmacokinetics and efficacy studies also indicated higher tumor accumulation and extended survival rates in C26 tumor-bearing mice treated with the MMP-2 cleavable CLs as compared to the non-cleavable CLs with no remarkable sign of toxicity in healthy tissues. Conclusion: Altogether, the MMP-2-cleavable CLs have great potency to improve tumor-targeted drug delivery and cellular/tumor-vasculature uptake which merits further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
JournalCancer Nanotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2023


  • Cancer
  • Cationic liposome
  • Doxorubicin
  • Matrix metalloproteinase-2
  • Vascular targeting


Dive into the research topics of 'Doxorubicin-loaded liposomes surface engineered with the matrix metalloproteinase-2 cleavable polyethylene glycol conjugate for cancer therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this