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Hypoxia can induce chemoresistance, which is a significant clinical obstacle in cancer therapy. Here, we assessed development of hypoxia-induced chemoresistance (HICR) against free versus polymeric cisplatin micelles in a triple negative breast cancer cell line, MDA-MB-231. We then explored two strategies for the modulation of HICR against cisplatin micelles: a) the development of actively targeted micelles; and b) combination therapy with modulators of HICR in MDA-MB-231 cells. Actively targeted cisplatin micelles were prepared through surface modification of acetal-poly(ethylene oxide)-poly( -carboxyl-"-caprolactone) (acetal-PEO-PCCL) micelles with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-targeting peptide, GE11 (YHWYGYTPQNVI). Our results showed that hypoxia induced resistance against free and cisplatin micelles in MDA-MB-231 cells. A significant increase in micellar cisplatin uptake was observed in MDA-MB-231 cells that overexpress EGFR, following surface modification of micelles with GE11. This did not lead to increased cytotoxicity of micellar cisplatin, however. On the other hand, the addition of pharmacological inhibitors of key molecules involved in HICR in MDA-MB-231 cells, i.e., inhibitors of hypoxia inducing factor-1 (HIF-1) and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), substantially enhanced the cytotoxicity of free and cisplatin micelles. The results indicated the potential benefit of combination therapy with HIF-1 and STAT3 inhibitors in overcoming HICR to free or micellar cisplatin.


This article was originally published in Pharmaceutics, volume 10, in 2018. DOI: 10.3390/pharmaceutics10040196


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