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Investigation of controlled release properties and anticancer effect of folic acid conjugated magnetic core–shell nanoparticles as a dual responsive drug delivery system on A-549 and A-431 cancer cell lines


Epirubicin loaded on magnetite-coated calcium ferrite conjugated folic acid (Fe3O4@CaFe2O4-FA@EPI) was synthesized and characterized using various techniques like SEM, EDX, FT-IR, XRD, TGA, BET, and VSM. Also, the therapeutic effects on A-549 and A-431 cancer cell lines and delivering ability of Fe3O4@CaFe2O4-FA@EPI for potential use as a system of targeted drug delivery in cancer therapy were investigated. The obtained results show that these hybrid nanoscale particles have a large capacity of adsorption for EPI (19.4 wt.%) and desirable drug loading performance (97.5%). The acetate buffer environment guides the drug release to a higher amount (99%), in comparison with the phosphate-buffered saline (28%). Also, the Fe3O4@CaFe2O4-FA@EPI nanohybrids in vitro cytotoxic activity versus A-549 (null folate receptor) and A-431 (positive folate receptor) cancer cell lines in group III (Fe3O4@EPI) investigations, show the higher cell cytotoxicity and apoptosis in A-549 cells compared to A-431 (p < 0.05). Moreover, in A-431 cells, the percent of cell cytotoxicity and cell death grew in the Fe3O4@CaFe2O4-FA@EPI group in comparison with the A-549 cell line (p < 0.05). The results illustrated the effects of Fe3O4@CaFe2O4-FA@EPI group on cytotoxicity and apoptosis of A-431 positive folate receptor cancer cells were almost two times greater than free EPI. Furthermore, obtained findings show that the Fe3O4@CaFe2O4-FA@EPI provides a specific growth inhibition of cancer cells through binding to receptors on the cell membrane and intracellular uptake.

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The Razi University Research Center's financial support is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Nahid Shahabadi.

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Shahabadi, N., Razlansari, M., Khorshidi, A. et al. Investigation of controlled release properties and anticancer effect of folic acid conjugated magnetic core–shell nanoparticles as a dual responsive drug delivery system on A-549 and A-431 cancer cell lines. Res Chem Intermed 46, 4257–4278 (2020).

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  • Calcium ferrite
  • Folic acid
  • Epirubicin
  • pH-responsive
  • Targeted drug delivery