Light-assisted hierarchical intratumoral penetration and programmed antitumor therapy based on tumor microenvironment (TME)-amendatory and self-adaptive polymeric nanoclusters

Jing Yan, Qinghua Wu, Ziyin Zhao, Jianhua Wu, Huan Ye, Qiujun Liang, Zhuchao Zhou, Mengying Hou, Xudong Li, Yong Liu, Lichen Yin
The anticancer performance of nanomedicine is largely impeded by insufficient intratumoral penetration. Herein, tumor microenvironment (TME)-amendatory and self-adaptive nanoclusters (NCs) capable of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) depletion and size/charge conversion were engineered to mediate light-assisted, hierarchical intratumoral penetration. Particularly, large-sized NCs (~50 nm) were prepared via self-assembly of FAP-α-targeting peptide-modified, 1O2-sensitive polymers, which were further used to envelope small-sized dendrimer (~5 nm) conjugated with Ce6 and loaded with DOX (DC/D). After systemic administration, the NCs efficiently targeted CAFs and generated lethal levels of 1O2 upon light irradiation, which depleted CAFs and concomitantly dissociated the NCs to liberate small-sized, positively charged DC/D. Such stroma attenuation and NCs transformation collectively facilitated the delivery of DC/D into deeper regions of CAF-rich tumors, where DOX and 1O2 provoked synergistic anti-cancer efficacies. This study provides an effective approach to facilitate the tumor penetration of nanomedicine by concurrently and spatiotemporally reconfiguring the nano-properties and remodeling the TME.

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