pH-sensitive polymeric nanoparticles of mPEG-PLGA-PGlu with hybrid core for simultaneous encapsulation of curcumin and doxorubicin to kill the heterogeneous tumour cells in breast cancer

Most breast tumours are heterogeneous and not only contain the bulk of differentiated tumour cells but also a small population of highly tumorigenic and intrinsically drug-resistant cancer stem cells (CSCs). Herein, a pH-sensitive nanoparticle with simultaneous encapsulation of curcumin and doxorubicin (CURDOX-NPs) was prepared by using monomethoxy (polyethylene glycol)-b-P (D,L-lactic-co-glycolic acid)-b-P (L-glutamic acid) polymer to simultaneously target the differentiated tumor cells and CSCs. CURDOX-NPs had a mean diameter of 107.5 nm and zeta potential of −13.7 mV, determined by DLS. Drug-loading efficiency for curcumin and doxorubicin was reaching to 80.30% and 96.2%, respectively. Moreover, a cascade sustained-release profiles with the faster release of CUR followed by a slower release of DOX was observed in normal pH7.4 condition. Moreover, a pH-sensitive release profile for each cargo was seen in pH5.0 condition. The anti-tumour effect of CURDOX-NPs on CSCs-enriching MCF-7/ADR mammospheres was confirmed by in vitro. Moreover, a significant regression of tumour growth after treatment with CURDOX-NPs was also observed in Xenograft mice model. The percentage of CSCs in tumour significantly decreased from 39.9% in control group to 6.82% after treatment with CURDOX-NPs. The combinational delivery of CUR and DOX may a potentially useful therapeutic strategy for refractory breast cancer.