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Tuning Ligand Density To Optimize Pharmacokinetics of Targeted Nanoparticles for Dual Protection against Tumor-Induced Bone Destruction


Vanderburgh JJoseph , Hill JLJordan L , Gupta MKMukesh K , Kwakwa KAKristin A , Wang SKSean K , Moyer KKathleen , Bedingfield SKSean K , Merkel ARAlyssa R , d'Arcy RRichard , Guelcher SAScott A , Rhoades JAJulie A , Duvall CLCraig L . ACS nano. 2020 1 8; 14(1). 311-327


Breast cancer patients are at high risk for bone metastasis. Metastatic bone disease is a major clinical problem that leads to a reduction in mobility, increased risk of pathologic fracture, severe bone pain, and other skeletal-related events. The transcription factor Gli2 drives expression of parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP), which activates osteoclast-mediated bone destruction, and previous studies showed that Gli2 genetic repression in bone-metastatic tumor cells significantly reduces tumor-induced bone destruction. Small molecule inhibitors of Gli2 have been identified; however, the lipophilicity and poor pharmacokinetic profile of these compounds have precluded their success . In this study, we designed a bone-targeted nanoparticle (BTNP) comprising an amphiphilic diblock copolymer of poly[(propylene sulfide)–(alendronate acrylamide–,-dimethylacrylamide)] [PPS–P(Aln–DMA)] to encapsulate and preferentially deliver a small molecule Gli2 inhibitor, GANT58, to bone-associated tumors. The mol % of the bisphosphonate Aln in the hydrophilic polymer block was varied in order to optimize BTNP targeting to tumor-associated bone by a combination of nonspecific tumor accumulation (presumably through the enhanced permeation and retention effect) and active bone binding. Although 100% functionalization with Aln created BTNPs with strong bone binding, these BTNPs had highly negative zeta-potential, resulting in shorter circulation time, greater liver uptake, and less distribution to metastatic tumors in bone. However, 10 mol % of Aln in the hydrophilic block generated a formulation with a favorable balance of systemic pharmacokinetics and bone binding, providing the highest bone/liver biodistribution ratio among formulations tested. In an intracardiac tumor cell injection model of breast cancer bone metastasis, treatment with the lead candidate GANT58-BTNP formulation decreased tumor-associated bone lesion area 3-fold and increased bone volume fraction in the tibiae of the mice 2.5-fold. Aln conferred bone targeting to the GANT58-BTNPs, which increased GANT58 concentration in the tumor-associated bone relative to untargeted NPs, and also provided benefit through the direct antiresorptive therapeutic function of Aln. The dual benefit of the Aln in the BTNPs was supported by the observations that drug-free Aln-containing BTNPs improved bone volume fraction in bone-tumor-bearing mice, while GANT58-BTNPs created better therapeutic outcomes than both unloaded BTNPs and GANT58-loaded untargeted NPs. These findings suggest GANT58-BTNPs have potential to potently inhibit tumor-driven osteoclast activation and resultant bone destruction in patients with bone-associated tumor metastases.