Drug Deliv. 2021 Dec;28(1):680-691. doi: 10.1080/10717544.2021.1905750.
Multidrug resistance (MDR) is one of the main reasons for tumor chemotherapy failure. Podophyllotoxin (PPT) has been reported that can suppress MDR cancer cell growth; however, effective delivery of PPT to MDR cancer cells is challenged by cascaded bio-barriers. To effectively deliver PPT to MDR cancer cells, a PPT polymeric prodrug micelle (PCDMA) with the charge-conversion capability and self-acceleration drug release function are fabricated, which is composed of a pH and reactive oxygen species (ROS) sequentially responsive PPT-polymeric prodrug and an ROS generation agent, cucurbitacin B (CuB). After reach to tumor tissue, the surface charge of PCDMA could rapidly reverse to positive in the tumor extracellular environment to promote cellular uptake. Subsequently, the PCDMA could be degraded to release PPT and CuB in response to an intracellular high ROS condition. The released CuB is competent for generating ROS, which in turn accelerates the release of PPT and CuB. Eventually, the released PPT could kill MDR cancer cells. The in vitro and in vivo studies demonstrated that PCDMA was effectively internalized by cancer cells and produces massive ROS intracellular, rapid release drug, and effectively overcame MDR compared with the control cells, due to the tumor-specific weakly acidic and ROS-rich environment. Our results suggest that the pH/ROS dual-responsive PCDMA micelles with surface charge-reversal and self-amplifying ROS-response drug release provide an excellent platform for potential MDR cancer treatment.