J Cancer 2019; 10(23):5820-5831. doi:10.7150/jca.30865 This issue

Research Paper

Polymeric micelles loading with ursolic acid enhancing anti-tumor effect on hepatocellular carcinoma

Meiling Zhou2*, Youping Yi1*, Li Liu1*, Yan Lin1, Jian Li1, Jinghua Ruan3✉, Zhirong Zhong1,4✉

1. Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Southwest Medical University, Luzhou, Sichuan 646000, China.
2. Department of Pharmacy, The Affiliated Hospital of Southwest Medical University, Luzhou, Sichuan 646000, China.
3. The First Affiliated Hospital, Guiyang University of Chinese Medicine, Guiyang 550001, China.
4. Key Laboratory of Medical Electrophysiology, Ministry of Education, Institute of Cardiovascular Research of Southwest Medical University, Luzhou 646000, China.
*These authors contributed equally to this work.

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Zhou M, Yi Y, Liu L, Lin Y, Li J, Ruan J, Zhong Z. Polymeric micelles loading with ursolic acid enhancing anti-tumor effect on hepatocellular carcinoma. J Cancer 2019; 10(23):5820-5831. doi:10.7150/jca.30865. Available from https://www.jcancer.org/v10p5820.htm

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Ursolic acid (UA) is widely found in many dietary plants, which has been proved to be effective in cancer therapy. But unfortunately its hydrophobic property limits its clinical application. Polymer micelles (PMs) are constructed from amphiphilic block copolymers that tend to self-assemble and form the unique core-shell structure consisting of a hydrophilic corona outside and a hydrophobic inner core. PMs could entrap the hydrophobic substance into its hydrophobic inner core for solubilizing these poorly water-soluble drugs and it is widely applied as a novel nano-sized drug delivery system. This study aimed to develop the drug delivery system of UA-loaded polymer micelles (UA-PMs) to overcome the disadvantages of UA in clinical application thus enhancing antitumor effect on hepatocellular carcinoma. UA-PMs was prepared and characterized for the physicochemical properties. It was investigated the cell-growth inhibition effect of UA-PMs against the human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line HepG2 and human normal liver cell line L-02. UA-PMs was evaluated about the in vivo toxicity and the antitumor activity. We took a diblock copolymer of methoxy poly (ethylene glycol)-poly(L-lactic acid) (mPEG-PLA) as carrier material to prepare UA-PMs by the thin-film dispersion method. MTT assay and wound-healing assay were investigated to assess the inhibition effect of UA-PMs against HepG2 cells on cell-growth and cell-migration. Further, we chose KM mice for the acute toxicity experiment and assessed the antitumor effect of UA-PMs on the H22 tumor xenograft. UA-PMs could markedly inhibit the proliferation and migration of HepG2 cells. In vivo study showed that UA-PMs could significantly inhibit the growth of H22 xenograft and prolong the survival time of tumor-bearing mice. It demonstrated that UA-PMs possess great potential in liver cancer therapy and may enlarge the application of UA in clinical therapy.

Keywords: Ursolic acid, Polymeric micelles, Antitumor effect, Hepatocellular carcinoma