As the intertissue delivery of hydrophobic temoporfin (mTHPC) remains inefficient, we propose the use of cyclodextrin-based nanosponges as a smart, advanced system for improved mTHPC delivery. Recently, we demonstrated that cyclodextrins (CDs) allow mTHPC to penetrate into tumor spheroids via a nanoshuttle mechanism. However, the CD complexes were very sensitive to the dilution, thus limiting their translation invivo. Hypercrosslinked CD monomers in a three-dimensional network (namely, CD nanosponges), however, may form both inclusion and non-inclusion complexes with drug molecules, providing controlled release and prolonged exposure to the drug. In the present work, we demonstrate that epichlorohydrin-crosslinked CD nanosponges based on β-CD (βCDp) and carboxymethyl-β-CD (CMβCDp) monomers efficiently encapsulated mTHPC. We calculated the apparent binding constants between mTHPC and CD polymers (K=(6.3-8.8)×10M and K=(1.2-1.7)×10M for βCDp and CMβCDp, respectively) using fluorescence titration curve fitting. The encapsulation of mTHPC in a CD polymer matrix had slower photosensitizer (PS) release compared to monomer CD units, providing deep penetration of mTHPC in 3D tumor spheroids in a concentration-dependent manner. However, the improvement of mTHPC penetration in 3D human pharynx squamous cell carcinoma (FaDu) spheroids using CD polymers was strongly accompanied by the inhibition of PS cellular uptake, demonstrating the delicate balance between the accumulation and the penetration of PS in FaDu spheroids. In summary, mTHPC-loaded CD nanosponges are a strong candidate for further invivo study in preclinical models, which could be considered as an advanced smart system for mTHPC delivery.Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.
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