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Novel docetaxel-loaded nanoparticles based on poly(lactide-co-caprolactone) and poly(lactide-co-glycolide-co-caprolactone) for prostate cancer treatment: formulation, characterization, and cytotoxicity studies

Vanna Sanna1*, Anna Maria Roggio1, Anna Maria Posadino2, Annalisa Cossu2, Salvatore Marceddu3, Alberto Mariani4, Valeria Alzari4, Sergio Uzzau12, Gianfranco Pintus2 and Mario Sechi5

Author Affiliations

1 Porto Conte Ricerche, Località Tramariglio, Alghero, Sassari 07041, Italy

2 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Centre of Excellence for Biotechnology Development and Biodiversity Research, University of Sassari, Viale San Pietro 43/B, Sassari 07100, Italy

3 Istituto di Scienze delle Produzioni Alimentari (ISPA), CNR, Via dei Mille 48, Sassari 07100, Italy

4 Department of Chemistry and local INSTM unit, University of Sassari, Via Vienna 2, Sassari 07100, Italy

5 Dipartimento di Scienze del Farmaco, University of Sassari, Via Muroni 23/A, Sassari 07100, Italy

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:260  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-260

Published: 28 March 2011


Docetaxel (Dtx) chemotherapy is the optional treatment in patients with hormone-refractory metastatic prostate cancer, and Dtx-loaded polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) have the potential to induce durable clinical responses. However, alternative formulations are needed to overcome the serious side effects, also due to the adjuvant used, and to improve the clinical efficacy of the drug.

In the present study, two novel biodegradable block-copolymers, poly(lactide-co-caprolactone) (PLA-PCL) and poly(lactide-co-caprolactone-co-glycolide) (PLGA-PCL), were explored for the formulation of Dtx-loaded NPs and compared with PLA- and PLGA-NPs. The nanosystems were prepared by an original nanoprecipitation method, using Pluronic F-127 as surfactant agent, and were characterized in terms of morphology, size distribution, encapsulation efficiency, crystalline structure, and in vitro release. To evaluate the potential anticancer efficacy of a nanoparticulate system, in vitro cytotoxicity studies on human prostate cancer cell line (PC3) were carried out. NPs were found to be of spherical shape with an average diameter in the range of 100 to 200 nm and a unimodal particle size distribution. Dtx was incorporated into the PLGA-PCL NPs with higher (p < 0.05) encapsulation efficiency than that of other polymers. Differential scanning calorimetry suggested that Dtx was molecularly dispersed in the polymeric matrices. In vitro drug release study showed that release profiles of Dtx varied on the bases of characteristics of polymers used for formulation. PLA-PCL and PLGA-PCL drug loaded NPs shared an overlapping release profiles, and are able to release about 90% of drug within 6 h, when compared with PLA- and PLGA-NPs. Moreover, cytotoxicity studies demonstrated advantages of the Dtx-loaded PLGA-PCL NPs over pure Dtx in both time- and concentration-dependent manner. In particular, an increase of 20% of PC3 growth inhibition was determined by PLGA-PCL NPs with respect to free drug after 72 h incubation and at all tested Dtx concentration. In summary, PLGA-PCL copolymer may be considered as an attractive and promising polymeric material for the formulation of Dtx NPs as delivery system for prostate cancer treatment, and can also be pursued as a validated system in a more large context.