Self-assembling, amphiphilic polymer-gemcitabine conjugate shows enhanced antitumor efficacy against human pancreatic adenocarcinoma

Deepak Chitkara, Anupama Mittal, Stephan W. Behrman, Neeraj Kumar, Ram I. Mahato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


The therapeutic efficacy of gemcitabine is severely compromised due to its rapid plasma metabolism. Moreover, its hydrophilicity poses a challenge for its efficient entrapment in nanosized delivery systems and to provide a sustained release profile. In this study, gemcitabine was covalently conjugated to poly(ethylene glycol)-block-poly(2-methyl-2-carboxyl-propylene carbonate) (PEG-PCC) which could self-assemble into micelles of 23.6 nm. These micelles afforded protection to gemcitabine from plasma metabolism as evident by negligible amount of gemcitabine and its metabolite dFdU detected in the plasma after 24 h. A controlled release of gemcitabine from the micelles was observed with 53.89% drug release in 10 days in the presence of protease enzyme Cathepsin B. Gemcitabine conjugated micelles were cytotoxic, showed internalization, and induced cell apoptosis in MIA PaCa-2 and L3.6pl pancreatic cancer cell lines. These micelles efficiently inhibited tumor growth when injected intravenously into MIA PaCa-2 cell derived xenograft tumor bearing NSG mice at a dose of 40 mg/kg in terms of reduced tumor volume and tumor weight (0.38 g vs 0.58 g). TUNEL assay revealed that gemcitabine conjugated micelles induced a much higher extent of apoptosis in the tumor tissues compared to free gemcitabine. In conclusion, gemcitabine conjugated micelles were able to enhance the drug payload, protect it from rapid plasma metabolism, and provide a sustained release and showed enhanced antitumor activity, and thus have the potential to provide a better therapeutic alternative for treating pancreatic cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1161-1173
Number of pages13
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 17 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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