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Background: Doxorubicin (DOX) is a potent chemotherapeutic widely used for solid tumors (1). Despite high efficacy in 2D cell culture, DOX efficacy does not translate to in vivo lung cancer models (2). Major side effects such as cardiotoxicity may be alleviated with nano-based drug delivery systems (nanoDDS). However, tumor penetration of DOX and DOX-nanoDDS is largely unknown and is an additional barrier to effective clinical therapy (3). Here we describe a nanoDDS capable of enhancing the penetration of DOX.

Methods: DOX was conjugated to generation 4 poly(amido-amine) dendrimers through (GFLG) tumor- liable bond. G4SA-GFLG-DOX was synthesized/characterized. spheroids were formed of (A549) lung adenocarcinoma cells and (3T3) fibroblasts. Spheroids were characterized for ECM components with immunohistochemistry. Confocal microscopy was used to evaluate the penetration, internalization, and colocalization of DOX and G4SA-GFLG-DOX. MTT assay and Caspase 3/7 to assess 2D and 3D cytotoxicity. Flow cytometry to determine cells uptake.

Results: DOX conjugation to dendrimer resulted in G4SA-GFLG-DOX with ~5.5 DOX, 10±1 nm hydrodynamic diameter, and a -17±3 mV zeta-potential. Spheroids of (A549:3T3) were ECM- rich, developed ECM containing collagen-I, hyaluronan, laminin, and fibronectin. While DOX and G4SA-GFLG-DOX had similar toxicities in 2D model, G4SA-GFLG-DOX demonstrated a 3.1-fold greater penetration into spheroids compared to DOX and correlated to a greater efficacy as measured by caspase 3/7 activity. Also, flow cytometry showed higher uptake of G4SA- GFLG-DOX in cancer cells compared to fibroblasts.

Conclusion: The work demonstrates enhanced penetration of DOX, via dendrimer conjugation, into an ECM- rich 3D lung cancer model. The enhanced penetration of G4SA-GFLG-DOX correlated with greater antitumor efficacy.

Acknowledgements: We acknowledge partial financial support from the Center for Pharmaceutical Engineering and Sciences - School of Pharmacy at VCU. This study was supported by VCU Quest for Distinction and NSF (DRM #1508363). Microscopy was performed at the VCU Microscopy Facility, supported, in part, by funding from NIH-NCI Cancer Center Support Grant P30 CA016059. RA would like to acknowledge King Faisal University (KFU) and Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) for a scholarship.

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Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

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VCU Graduate Research Posters

Dendrimer Conjugation Enhances Tumor Penetration and Cell Kill of Doxorubicin in 3D Coculture Lung Cancer Models