Optimization and formulation of nanostructured and self-assembled caseinate micelles for enhanced cytotoxic effects of paclitaxel on breast cancer cells

Farah Rehan, Nafees Ahemad, Rowshan Ara Islam, Manish Gupta, Siew Hua Gan, Ezharul Hoque Chowdhury

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Paclitaxel (PTX) is a widely used anti-cancer drug for treating various types of solid malignant tumors including breast, ovarian and lung cancers. However, PTX has a low therapeutic response and is linked with acquired resistance, as well as a high incidence of adverse events, such as allergic reactions, neurotoxicity and myelosuppression. The situation is compounded when its complex chemical structure contributes towards hydrophobicity, shortening its circulation time in blood, causing off-target effects and limiting its therapeutic activity against cancer cells. Formulating a smart nano-carrier may overcome the solubility and toxicity issues of the drug and enable its more selective delivery to the cancerous cells. Among the nano-carriers, natural polymers are of great importance due to their excellent biodegradability, non-toxicity and good accessibility. The aim of the present research is to develop self-assembled sodium caseinate nanomicelles (NaCNs) with PTX loaded into the hydrophobic core of NaCNs for effective uptake of the drug in cancer cells and its subsequent intracellular release. Methods: The PTX-loaded micelle was characterized with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), Fourier Transform Infrared Spectra (FTIR), High Resolution-Transmission Electron Microscope (HR-TEM), Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope (FESEM) and Energy Dispersive X-Ray (EDX). Following treatment with PTX-loaded NaCNs, cell viability, cellular uptake and morphological changes were analyzed using MCF-7 and MDA-MB 231 human breast cancer cell lines. Results: We found that PTX-loaded NaCNs efficiently released PTX in an acidic tumor environment, while showing an enhanced cytotoxicity, cellular uptake and in-vivo anti-tumor efficacy in a mouse model of breast cancer when compared to free drug and blank micelles. Additionally, the nanomicelles also presented improved colloidal stability for three months at 4 C and −20 C and when placed at a temperature of 37 C. Conclusions: We conclude that the newly developed NaCNs is a promising carrier of PTX to enhance tumor accumulation of the drug while addressing its toxicity issues as well.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number984
    Pages (from-to)1-27
    Number of pages27
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2020


    • Breast cancer
    • Colloidal stability
    • Cytotoxicity
    • Nanomicelles
    • Natural polymers
    • Paclitaxel
    • Sodium caseinate
    • Tumor regression

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