Tumor Microenvironment Targeting and Responsive Peptide-Based Nanoformulations for Improved Tumor Therapy

Hao Qin, Yanping Ding, Ayeesha Mujeeb, Ying Zhao, Guangjun Nie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The tumor microenvironment participates in all stages of tumor progression and has emerged as a promising therapeutic target for cancer therapy. Rapid progress in the field of molecular self-assembly using various biologic molecules has resulted in the fabrication of nanoformulations that specifically target and regulate microenvironment components to inhibit tumor growth. This inhibition process is based on differentiating between biophysicochemical cues guiding tumor and normal tissue microenvironments. Peptides and peptide derivatives, owing to their biocompatibility, chemical versatility, bioactivity, environmental sensitivity, and biologic recognition abilities, have been widely used as building blocks to construct multifunctional nanostructures for targeted drug delivery and controlled release. Several groups of peptides have been identified as having the ability to penetrate plasma membranes, regulate the essential signaling pathways of angiogenesis and immune reactions, and recognize key components in the tumor microenvironment (such as vascular systems, stromal cells, and abnormal tumor biophysicochemical features). Thus, using different modules, various functional peptides, and their derivatives can be integrated into nanoformulations specifically targeting the tumor microenvironment with increased selectivity, on-demand response, elevated cellular uptake, and improved tumor therapy. In this review, we introduce several groups of functional peptides and highlight peptide-based nanoformulations that specifically target the tumor microenvironment. We also provide our perspective on the development of smart drug-delivery systems with enhanced therapeutic efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-231
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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