Tumor Biology

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 55–67 | Cite as

Active radar guides missile to its target: receptor-based targeted treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma by nanoparticulate systems

  • Jing-Jun Yan
  • Jia-Zhi Liao
  • Ju-Sheng Lin
  • Xing-Xing He


Patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) usually present at advanced stages and do not benefit from surgical resection, so drug therapy should deserve a prominent place in unresectable HCC treatment. But chemotherapy agents, such as doxorubicin, cisplatin, and paclitaxel, frequently encounter important problems such as low specificity and non-selective biodistribution. Recently, the development of nanotechnology led to significant breakthroughs to overcome these problems. Decorating the surfaces of nanoparticulate-based drug carriers with homing devices has demonstrated its potential in concentrating chemotherapy agents specifically to HCC cells. In this paper, we reviewed the current status of active targeting strategies for nanoparticulate systems based on various receptors such as asialoglycoprotein receptor, transferrin receptor, epidermal growth factor receptor, folate receptor, integrin, and CD44, which are abundantly expressed on the surfaces of hepatocytes or liver cancer cells. Furthermore, we pointed out their merits and defects and provided theoretical references for further research.


Active drug delivery Nanotechnology Asialoglycoprotein receptor EGFR Transferrin receptor Folate receptor 



Hepatocellular carcinoma


Asialoglycoprotein receptor


Epidermal growth factor receptor


Transferrin receptor


Folate receptor






Lactobionic acid








Small interfering RNA


Short hairpin RNA




Rhodamine B isothiocyanate




PHA granule-binding protein


Linear polyethylenimine


Polyethylene glycol


Sodium iodide symporter


Quantum dot




Extracellular matrix


Cancer stem cells




Glycyrrhetinic acid




Somatostatin receptors


Vascular endothelial growth factor



This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 81472832, 81302112, and 81372663), the Outstanding Youth Science Foundation of Tongji Hospital (No. YXQN005), the Youth Sciences and Technology Chenguang Planning of Wuhan (No. 2014070404010219), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. 2014QN084).

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jing-Jun Yan
    • 1
  • Jia-Zhi Liao
    • 1
  • Ju-Sheng Lin
    • 1
  • Xing-Xing He
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Liver Diseases, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical CollegeHuazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanChina

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