Bisphosphonate-Functionalized Hydroxyapatite Nanoparticles for the Delivery of the Bromodomain Inhibitor JQ1 in the Treatment of Osteosarcoma

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Osteosarcoma (OS) is one of the most common neoplasia among children, and its survival statistics have been stagnating since the combinatorial anticancer therapy triad was first introduced. Here, we report on the assessment of the effect of hydroxyapatite (HAp) nanoparticles loaded with medronate, the simplest bisphosphonate, as a bone-targeting agent and JQ1, a small-molecule bromodomain inhibitor, as a chemotherapeutic in different 2D and 3D K7M2 OS in vitro models. Both additives decreased the crystallinity of HAp, but the effect was more intense for medronate because of its higher affinity for HAp. As the result of PO43−-NH+ binding, JQ1 shielded the surface phosphates of HAp and pushed its surface charge to more positive values, exhibiting the opposite effect from calcium-blocking medronate. In contrast to the faster and more exponential release of JQ1 from monetite, its release from HAp nanoparticles followed a zero-order kinetics, but 98% of the payload was released after 48 h. The apoptotic effect of HAp nanoparticles loaded with JQ1, with medronate and with both JQ1 and medronate, was selective in 2D culture: pronounced against the OS cells and nonexistent against the healthy fibroblasts. While OS cell invasion was significantly inhibited by all of the JQ1-containing HAp formulations, that is, with and without medronate, all of the combinations of the targeting compound, medronate, and the chemotherapeutic, JQ1, delivered using HAp, but not HAp alone, inhibited OS cell migration from the tumor spheroids. JQ1 delivered using HAp had an effect on tumor migration, invasion, and apoptosis even at extremely low, subnanomolar concentrations, at which no effect of JQ1 per se was observed, meaning that this form of delivery could help achieve a multifold increase of this drug’s efficacy. More than 80% of OS cells internalized JQ1-loaded HAp nanoparticles after 24 h of coincubation, suggesting that this augmentation of the activity of JQ1 may be due to the intracellular delivery and sustained release of the drug enabled by HAp. In addition to the reduction of the OS cell viability, the reduction of the migration and invasion radii was observed in OS tumor spheroids challenged with even JQ1-free medronate-functionalized HAp nanoparticles, demonstrating a definite anticancer activity of medronate alone when combined with HAp. The effect of medronate-functionalized JQ1-loaded HAp nanoparticles was most noticeable against OS cells differentiated into an osteoblastic lineage, in which case they surpassed in effect pure JQ1 and medronate-free compositions. The activity of JQ1 was mediated through increased Ezrin expression and decreased RUNX2 expression and was MYC and FOSL1 independent, but these patterns of gene expression changed in cells challenged with the nanoparticulate form of delivery, having been accompanied by the upregulation of RUNX2 and downregulation of Ezrin in OS cells treated with medronate-functionalized JQ1-loaded HAp nanoparticles.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, volume 9, issue 31, in 2017 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI:10.1021/acsami.7b08108.


American Chemical Society