Bioactive Materials (2021-05-01)

A sulfur dioxide polymer prodrug showing combined effect with doxorubicin in combating subcutaneous and metastatic melanoma

  • Lin An,
  • Peng Zhang,
  • Wei Shen,
  • Xuan Yi,
  • Weitian Yin,
  • Rihua Jiang,
  • Chunsheng Xiao

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 6, no. 5
pp. 1365 – 1374


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Melanoma, as the most aggressive and treatment-resistant skin malignancy, is responsible for about 80% of all skin cancer mortalities. Prone to invade into the dermis and form distant metastases significantly reduce the patient survival rate. Therefore, early treatment of the melanoma in situ or timely blocking the deterioration of metastases is critical. In this study, a sulfur dioxide (SO2) polymer prodrug was designed as both an intracellular glutathione (GSH)-responsive SO2 generator and a carrier of doxorubicin (DOX), and used for the treatment of subcutaneous and metastatic melanoma. Firstly, chemical conjugation of 4-N-(2,4-dinitrobenzenesulfonyl)-imino-1-butyric acid (DIBA) onto the side chains of methoxy poly (ethylene glycol) grafted dextran (mPEG-g-Dex) resulted in the synthesis of the amphiphilic polymer prodrug of SO2, mPEG-g-Dex (DIBA). The obtained mPEG-g-Dex (DIBA) could self-assemble into stable micellar nanoparticles and exhibited a glutathione-responsive SO2 release behavior. Subsequently, DOX was encapsulated into the core of mPEG-g-Dex (DIBA) micelles to form DOX-loaded nanoparticles (PDDN-DOX). The formed PDDN-DOX could be internalized by B16F10 cells and synchronously release DOX and SO2 into the tumor cells. As a result, PDDN-DOX exerted synergistic anti-tumor effects in B16F10 melanoma cells because of the oxidative damage properties of SO2 and toxic effects of DOX. Furthermore, in vivo experiments verified that PDDN-DOX had great potential for the treatment of subcutaneous and metastasis melanoma. Collectively, our present work demonstrates that the combination of SO2-based gas therapy and chemotherapeutics offers a new avenue for inhibiting melanoma progression and metastases.