In vitro and in vivo imaging of peptide-encapsulated polymer nanoparticles for cancer biomarker activated drug delivery

Gulsim K. Kulsharova, Matthew B. Lee, Felice Cheng, Munima Haque, Hyungsoo Choi, Kyekyoon Kim, William D. O'Brien, G. Logan Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gelatin nanoparticles coated with Cathepsin D-specific peptides were developed as a vehicle for the targeted delivery of the cancer drug doxorubicin (DOX) to treat breast malignancy. Cathepsin D, a breast cancer cell secretion enzyme, triggered the release of DOX by digesting the protective peptide-coating layer of nanoparticles. Fabricated nanoparticles were successfully detected with ultrasound imaging in both in vitro conditions and in vivo mouse cancer models. Cell viability experiments were conducted to determine the efficacy of biomarker activation specific to breast cancer cell lines. These experimental results were compared with the outcome of a viability experiment conducted on noncancerous cells. Viability decreased in human MCF7 mammary adenocarcinoma and mouse 4T1 mammary carcinoma cells, while that of noncancerous 3T3 fibroblast cells remained unaffected. Next, a real-time video of nanoparticle flow in mouse models was obtained using in vivo ultrasound imaging. The fluorescent profile of DOX was used as a means to examine nanoparticle localization in vivo. Results show the distribution of nanoparticles concentrated primarily within bladder and tumor sites of subject mice bodies. These findings support the use of biomarker coated nanoparticles in target specific therapy for breast cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4
Pages (from-to)304-310
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemotherapy
  • Doxorubicin
  • Gelatin nanoparticles
  • In vivo ultrasound imaging
  • Targeted drug delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Bioengineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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