Cationic Poly-l-lysine Dendrimer Complexes Doxorubicin and Delays Tumor Growth in Vitro and in Vivo

Khuloud Al-Jamal, Wafa Al-Jamal, Julie T.-W. Wang, Noelia Rubio, Joanna Buddle, David Gathercole, Mire Zloh, Kostas Kostarelos

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104 Citations (Scopus)


We report in this study the complexation of the chemotherapeutic drug doxorubicin (DOX) with the novel sixth-generation cationic poly-l-lysine dendrimer (DM) (MW 8149 kDa), which we previously reported to exhibit systemic antiangiogenic activity in tumor-bearing mice. DOX–DM complexation was confirmed by florescence polarization measurement, proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and molecular modeling. Enhanced penetration of DOX–DM (at 1:10 molar ratio), compared to the free DOX, into prostate 3D multicellular tumor spheroids (MTS) was confirmed by confocal laser scanning microscopy. Furthermore, DOX–DM complexes achieved a significantly higher cytotoxicity in DU145 MTS system compared to the free drug, as shown by growth delay curves. Incubation of MTS with low DOX concentration (1 μM) complexed with DM led to a significant delay in MTS growth compared to untreated MTS or MTS treated with free DOX. DOX–DM complex retention was also achieved in a Calu-6 lung cancer xenograft model in tumor-bearing mice, as shown by live whole animal fluorescence imaging. Therapeutic experiments in B16F10 tumor bearing mice have shown enhanced therapeutic efficacy of DOX when complexed to DM. This study suggests that the cationic poly-l-lysine DM molecules studied here could, in addition to their systemic antiangiogenic property, complex chemotherapeutic drugs such as DOX and improve their accumulation and cytotoxicity into MTS and solid tumors in vivo. Such an approach offers new capabilities for the design of combinatory antiangiogenic/anticancer therapeutics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1905-17
JournalACS Nano
Issue number3
Early online date7 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • cancer; growth delay; penetration; uptake; retention; fluorescence; solid tumor


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