Targeted cancer therapy based on single-wall carbon nanohorns with doxorubicin in vitro and in vivo

  • Xiaona Ma
  • Chang Shu
  • Jing Guo
  • Lili Pang
  • Lin Su
  • Degang Fu
  • Wenying ZhongEmail author
Research Paper


A new targeted drug delivery system (DDS) based on oxidized single-wall carbon nanohorns (oxSWCNHs) was developed. Sodium alginate (SA) was used to modify oxSWCNHs to improve its dispersibility and biocompatibility, the first time such a modification to oxSWCNHs was reported. The humanized anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) monoclonal antibody was bound to the SA as targeting group to selectively kill the tumor cells. Doxorubicin hydrochloride (DOX) was conjugated to oxSWCNHs in basic pH solution by π–π stacking, and its release was triggered by the lower pH as the micro-environment of the tumor. Quantitative analyses showed that the DOX@oxSWCNHs/SA complexes contained 1 g DOX per gram of oxSWCNHs. Cell experiment showed that the DOX@oxSWCNHs/SA-mAb effectively targeted the human breast adenocarcinoma (MCF-7) cells and rarely adhered to the human embryonic kidney 293 (HEK293) cells. And the anticancer effects of the complexes were higher than those of the free DOX. Pharmaceutical efficiency in vivo showed that the relative tumor volumes (RTV) of normal saline (NS) group, oxSWCNH/SA-mAb (2.5 mg/kg) group, DOX (2.5 mg/kg) group, and DOX@oxSWCNHs/SA-mAb (2.5 mg/kg) group were approximately 61, 56, 14, and 7.2, respectively. In addition, higher drug dose (5 mg/kg) of DOX@oxSWCNHs/SA-mAb resulted in a better antitumor activity. Histopathological studies in mice confirmed that the DOX@oxSWCNHs/SA-mAb complexes did not demonstrate any detectable hepatotoxicity, cardiotoxicity, and nephrotoxicity.

Graphical abstract


Oxidized single-wall carbon nanohorns Sodium alginate Doxorubicin hydrochloride Targeted drug delivery Antitumor efficacy Nanomedicine 



We are grateful for the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81173023 and No. 51172043). We are grateful to Dr. Juan Chen for helping with the TEM measurements. We appreciate Professor Yu Liu of Department of Biochemistry, School of Life Science and Technology, China Pharmaceutical University for their anti-VEGF monoclonal antibody.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaona Ma
    • 1
  • Chang Shu
    • 1
  • Jing Guo
    • 1
  • Lili Pang
    • 1
  • Lin Su
    • 3
  • Degang Fu
    • 3
  • Wenying Zhong
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Analytical ChemistryChina Pharmaceutical UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory for Drug Quality Control and Pharmacovigilance of Ministry of EducationChina Pharmaceutical UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of BioelectronicsSoutheast UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China

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