Methotrexate-conjugated PEGylated dendrimers show differential patterns of deposition and activity in tumor-burdened lymph nodes after intravenous and subcutaneous administration in rats

Lisa Michelle Kaminskas, Victoria Mary McLeod, David B Ascher, Gemma Ryan, Seth Adam Jones, John Michael Haynes, Natalie Trevaskis, Linda Jiaying Chan, Erica Kate Sloan, Benjamin Arthur Llewellyn Finnin, Mark McColl Williamson, Tony Velkov, Elizabeth Deborah Williams, Brian Kelly, David J Owen, Christopher John Porter

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46 Citations (Scopus)


The current study sought to explore whether the subcutaneous administration of lymph targeted dendrimers, conjugated with a model chemotherapeutic (methotrexate, MTX), was able to enhance anticancer activity against lymph node metastases. The lymphatic pharmacokinetics and antitumor activity of PEGylated polylysine dendrimers conjugated to MTX [D-MTX(OH)] via a tumor-labile hexapeptide linker was examined in rats and compared to a similar system where MTX was a-carboxyl O-tert-butylated [D-MTX(OtBu)]. The latter has previously been shown to exhibit longer plasma circulation times. D-MTX(OtBu) was well absorbed from the subcutaneous injection site via the lymph, and 3 to 4 /g of the dose was retained by sentinel lymph nodes. In contrast, D-MTX(OH) showed limited absorption from the subcutaneous injection site, but absorption was almost exclusively via the lymph. The retention of D-MTX(OH) by sentinel lymph nodes was also significantly elevated (approximately 30 dose/g). MTX alone was not absorbed into the lymph. All dendrimers displayed lower lymph node targeting after intravenous administration. Despite significant differences in the lymph node retention of D-MTX(OH) and D-MTX(OtBu) after subcutaneous and intravenous administration, the growth of lymph node metastases was similarly inhibited. In contrast, the administration of MTX alone did not significantly reduce lymph node tumor growth. Subcutaneous administration of drug-conjugated dendrimers therefore provides an opportunity to improve drug deposition in downstream tumor-burdened lymph nodes. In this case, however, increased lymph node biodistribution did not correlate well with antitumor activity, possibly suggesting constrained drug release at the site of action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432 - 443
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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