Expressed in macrophages and endothelial cells, the receptor for angiopoietin, tyrosine kinase with immunoglobulin and epidermal growth factor homology-2 (Tie2), is required for the reconstruction of blood vessels in tumor recurrence after chemotherapy. Thus, small therapeutic peptides that target and block Tie2 activity are promising as a therapeutic for the prevention of tumor relapse after chemotherapy. However, such small peptides often have low bioavailability, undergo rapid enzymatic degradation, and exhibit a short circulation half-life, making them ineffective in cancer therapy. Herein, we designed a dual-responsive amphiphilic peptide (mPEG1000-K(DEAP)-AAN-NLLMAAS) to modify the small peptide T4 (NLLMAAS) as a Tie2 inhibitor, endowing it with the ability to endure in circulation and specifically target tumor tissue. The ultimate nanoformulation (P-T4) releases T4 in response to the combination of the acidic tumor microenvironment and the presence of legumain, which is commonly overexpressed in tumor tissue. Compared with free T4, P-T4 decreases vessel density significantly (free T4: 2.44 ± 1.20%, P-T4: 0.90 ± 0.75%), delays tumor regrowth after chemotherapy (free T4: 43.2 ± 11.8%, P-T4: 63.6 ± 13.9%), and reduces distant metastasis formation (free T4: 4.50 ± 2.40%, P-T4: 0.67 ± 0.32%). These effects of P-T4 are produced by the local blockage of Tie2 signals in Tie2-positive macrophages and endothelial cells. In addition to describing a potential strategy to enhance circulation half-life and the accumulation of an active peptide at tumor sites, our approach exemplifies the successful targeting of multiple cell types that overexpress a key molecule in conditions associated with tumors.
- therapeutic peptides
- tumor acidic microenvironment
- tumor relapse after chemotherapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)