Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and deadliest type of brain cancer, and the current therapeutic options are not curative, imposing the need for novel strategies. Asiatic acid (AA) is a natural compound and has been explored due to its anti-glioma activity and lower toxicity to healthy tissues compared with conventional chemotherapeutic agents. However, its poor water-solubility is an obstacle for clinical application. Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) nanoparticles (NPs) were proposed in this work for Asiatic acid (AA) delivery.
A central composite design was implemented to optimize the NPs, and their surface was further modified with transferrin (Tf), for targeted delivery to GBM cells. The anti-glioma activity of the NPs was studied in vitro using human GBM cells and immortalized human astrocytes.
The NPs exhibited a mean size smaller than 200 nm, with low polydispersity and negative zeta potential, indicating their suitability for brain tumor delivery. The NPs also exhibited high encapsulation efficiency and maintained a slow and controlled release of AA for 20 days. In vitro cell studies showed that NPs were able to maintain the anti-glioma activity of the natural compound and that the surface modification with Tf molecules was able to increase the cellular uptake in GBM cells, enhancing their selectivity and decreasing toxicity in healthy cells.
Overall, this work provided guidance for designing brain-targeting delivery systems of natural compounds.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.