The purpose of this study was to prepare and characterize nanometer-sized prodrug (nanoprodrug) of camptothecin. The camptothecin prodrug was synthesized using tetraethylene glycol spacer linked via carbonate bond to camptothecin and via ester bond to α-lipoic acid. The nanoprodrug was prepared through the spontaneous emulsification mechanism using the mixture of camptothecin prodrug and α-tocopherol which served as a structural matrix. The nanoprodrug was activated readily by porcine liver esterase and, with a much slower rate, by hydrolytic degradation. Upon longterm storage, the α-lipoic acid moiety of the camptothecin prodrug gradually oxidized without loss of structural integrity and therapeutic efficacy. Interestingly, the hydrolytic activation was negligible before the oxidation, but was significantly accelerated after the oxidation of the α-lipoic acid moiety, suggesting an oxidative stimuli-responsive activation of the prodrug. The camptothecin nanoprodrug was found to possess significant inhibitory effect on the proliferation of U87-MG glioma cells with an IC50of 20 nM. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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