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The therapeutic potential of plumbagin, a naphthoquinone extracted from the officinal leadwort with anticancer properties, is hampered by its failure to specifically reach tumours at a therapeutic concentration after intravenous administration, without secondary effects on normal tissues. Its use in clinic is further limited by its poor aqueous solubility, its spontaneous sublimation, and its rapid elimination in vivo. We hypothesize that the entrapment of plumbagin within liposomes grafted with transferrin, whose receptors are overexpressed on many cancer cells, could result in a selective delivery to tumours after intravenous administration. The objectives of this study were therefore to prepare and characterize transferrin-targeted liposomes entrapping plumbagin and to evaluate their therapeutic efficacy in vitro and in vivo. The entrapment of plumbagin in transferrin-bearing liposomes led to an increase in plumbagin uptake by cancer cells and improved antiproliferative efficacy and apoptosis activity in B16-F10, A431, and T98G cell lines compared with that observed with the drug solution. In vivo, the intravenous injection of transferrin-bearing liposomes entrapping plumbagin led to tumour suppression for 10% of B16-F10 tumours and tumour regression for a further 10% of the tumours. By contrast, all the tumours treated with plumbagin solution or left untreated were progressive. The animals did not show any signs of toxicity. Transferrin-bearing liposomes entrapping plumbagin are therefore highly promising therapeutic systems that should be further optimized as a therapeutic tool for cancer treatment.


© 2019 The Authors Journal of Interdisciplinary Nanomedicine published by British Society for Nanomedicine and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Journal of Interdisciplinary Nanomedicine



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Immunology and Microbiology



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