Ligand-Functionalized Poly(ethylene glycol) Particles for Tumor Targeting and Intracellular Uptake

Jiwei Cui, Karen Alt, Yi Ju, Sylvia T. Gunawan, Julia A. Braunger, Ting Yi Wang, Yunlu Dai, Qiong Dai, Joseph J. Richardson, Junling Guo, Mattias Björnmalm, Christoph E. Hagemeyer, Frank Caruso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Drug carriers typically require both stealth and targeting properties to minimize nonspecific interactions with healthy cells and increase specific interaction with diseased cells. Herein, the assembly of targeted poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) particles functionalized with cyclic peptides containing Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) (ligand) using a mesoporous silica templating method is reported. The influence of PEG molecular weight, ligand-to-PEG molecule ratio, and particle size on cancer cell targeting to balance stealth and targeting of the engineered PEG particles is investigated. RGD-functionalized PEG particles (PEG-RGD particles) efficiently target U-87 MG cancer cells under static and flow conditions in vitro, whereas PEG and cyclic peptides containing Arg-Asp-Gly (RDG)-functionalized PEG (PEG-RDG) particles display negligible interaction with the same cells. Increasing the ligand-to-PEG molecule ratio improves cell targeting. In addition, the targeted PEG-RGD particles improve cell uptake via receptor-mediated endocytosis, which is desirable for intracellular drug delivery. The PEG-RGD particles show improved tumor targeting (14% ID g-1) when compared with the PEG (3% ID g-1) and PEG-RDG (7% ID g-1) particles in vivo, although the PEG-RGD particles show comparatively higher spleen and liver accumulation. The targeted PEG particles represent a platform for developing particles aimed at balancing nonspecific and specific interactions in biological systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3592-3600
Number of pages9
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2019

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