Co-delivery of Bmi1 small interfering RNA with ursolic acid by folate receptor-targeted cationic liposomes enhances anti-tumor activity of ursolic acid in vitro and in vivo

Overexpression of Bmi1 gene is an important feature of cancer stem cell in various human tumors. Therefore, Bmi1 gene can be a potential target for small interfering RNA (siRNA) mediated cancer therapy. Ursolic acid (UA) as a natural product plays a pivotal role in anti-tumor field, although its performance is limited by low bioavailability and poor hydrophilicity. A folate receptor-targeted cationic liposome system was designed for the purpose of investigating the relationship between Bmil siRNA and UA. The folate receptor-targeted cationic liposomes co-delivering UA and Bmi1 siRNA (FA-UA/siRNA-L) were fabricated by electrostatic interaction between folate UA liposome (FA-UA-L) and Bmi1 siRNA. Tumor growth is inhibited by FA-UA/siRNA-L in vitro and in vivo and this inhibition is contributed by a synergistic anti-tumor effect of UA and Bmi1 siRNA. The western blot measurement of apoptosis-protein and cancer stem cell (CSC) marked-protein demonstrated that UA led to activation-induced tumor cell death and Bmi1 siRNA resulted in inhibition of cancer stem cells. Overall, these results indicate that Bmi1 as a regulating gene for cancer stem cell is an effective target for cancer treatment using siRNA and co-delivery of UA and Bmi1 siRNA using folate-targeted liposomes is a promising strategy for improved anti-tumor effect.