Various polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) with optimal size, tumor-targeting functionalization, or microenvironment sensitive characteristics have been designed to solve several limitations of conventional chemotherapy. Nano-sized polymeric drug carrier systems have remarkably great advantages in drug delivery and cancer therapy, which are still plagued with severe deficiencies, especially insufficient cellular uptake. Recently, surface charge of medical NPs has been demonstrated to play an important role in cellular uptake. NPs with positive charge show higher affinity to anionic cell membranes such that with more efficient cellular internalization, but otherwise cause severe aggregation and fast clearance in circulation. Thus, surface charge-reversal NPs, specifically activated at the tumor site, have shown to elegantly resolve the enhanced cellular uptake in cancer cells vs.
non-specific protein adsorption dilemma. Herein, this review mainly focuses on the effect of tumor-site activated surface charge reversal NPs on tumor treatment, including the activated mechanisms and various applications in suppressing cancer cells, killing cancer stem cell and overcoming multidrug resistance, with the emphasis on recent research in these fields. With the comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the activated surface charge reversal NPs, this approach might arouse great interest of scientific research on enhanced efficient polymeric nano-carriers in cancer therapy.
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