Plumbagin, a naphthoquinone extracted from the officinal leadwort presenting promising anti-cancer properties, has its therapeutic potential limited by its inability to reach tumors in a specific way at a therapeutic concentration following systemic injection. The purpose of this study is to assess whether a novel tumor-targeted, lipid–polymer hybrid nanoparticle formulation of plumbagin would suppress the growth of B16-F10 melanoma in vitro and in vivo.
Novel lipid–polymer hybrid nanoparticles entrapping plumbagin and conjugated with transferrin, whose receptors are present in abundance on many cancer cells, have been developed. Their cellular uptake, anti-proliferative and apoptosis efficacy were assessed on various cancer cell lines in vitro. Their therapeutic efficacy was evaluated in vivo after tail vein injection to mice bearing B16-F10 melanoma tumors.
The transferrin-bearing lipid–polymer hybrid nanoparticles loaded with plumbagin resulted in the disappearance of 40% of B16-F10 tumors and regression of 10% of the tumors following intravenous administration. They were well tolerated by the mice.
These therapeutic effects, therefore, make transferrin-bearing lipid–polymer hybrid nanoparticles entrapping plumbagin a highly promising anti-cancer nanomedicine.