Tumor-targeted drug-loaded nanocarriers represent innovative and attractive tools for cancer therapy. Several magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) were analyzed as potential tumor-targeted drug-loaded nanocarriers after functionalization with anti-Met oncogene (anti-Met/HGFR) monoclonal antibody (mAb) and doxorubicin (DOXO). Their cytocompatibility, stability, immunocompetence (immunoprecipitation), and their interactions with cancer cells in vitro (Perl’s staining, confocal microscopy, cytotoxic assays: MTT, real time toxicity) and with tumors in vivo (Perl’s staining) were evaluated. The simplest silica- and calcium-free mAb-loaded MNPs were the most cytocompatible, the most stable, and showed the best immunocompetence and specificity. These mAb-functionalized MNPs specifically interacted with the surface of Met/HGFR-positive cells, and not with Met/HGFR-negative cells; they were not internalized, but they discharged in the targeted cells DOXO, which reached the nucleus, exerting cytotoxicity. The presence of mAbs on DOXO-MNPs significantly increased their cytotoxicity on Met/HGFR-positive cells, while no such effect was detectable on Met/HGFR-negative cells. Bare MNPs were biocompatible in vivo; mAb presence on MNPs induced a better dispersion within the tumor mass when injected in situ in Met/HGFR-positive xenotumors in NOD/SCID-γnull
mice. These MNPs may represent a new and promising carrier for in vivo targeted drug delivery, in which applied gradient and alternating magnetic fields can enhance targeting and induce hyperthermia respectively.
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