Tumoral acidic pH-responsive MPEG-poly(β-amino ester) polymeric micelles for cancer targeting therapy

Kyung Hyun Min, Jong Ho Kim, Sang Mun Bae, Hyeri Shin, Min Sang Kim, Sangjin Park, Hyejung Lee, Rang Woon Park, In San Kim, Kwangmeyung Kim, Ick Chan Kwon, Seo Young Jeong, Doo Sung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

274 Citations (Scopus)


Herein, we evaluated the tumoral low pH targeting characteristics of pH-responsive polymer micelles in cancer targeting therapy. To design the pH-responsive polymeric micelles, hydrophilic methyl ether poly(ethylene glycol) (MPEG) and pH-responsive/biodegradable poly(β-amino ester) (PAE) were copolymerized using a Michael-type step polymerization, resulting in an MEPG-PAE block copolymer. The amphiphilic MPEG-PAE block copolymer formed polymeric micelles with nano-sized diameter by self-assembly, which showed a sharp pH-dependant micellization/demicellization transition at the tumoral acidic pH value (pH 6.4). For the cancer image and therapy, fluorescence dye, tetramethylrhodamine isothiocyanate (TRITC), or anticancer drug, camptothecin (CPT), was efficiently encapsulated into the pH-responsive polymeric micelles (pH-PMs) by a simple solvent casting method. The TRITC or CPT encapsulated pH-PMs (TRITC-pH-PMs or CPT-pH-PMs) showed rapid release of TRITC or CPT in weakly acidic aqueous (pH 6.4) because they still presented a sharp tumoral acid pH-responsive micellization/demicellization transition. The pH-PMs with 10. wt.% of TRITC could deliver substantially more fluorescence dyes to the target tumor tissue in MDA-MB231 human breast tumor-bearing mice, compared to the control polymeric micelles of PEG-poly(. l-lactic acid) (PEG-PLLA). Importantly, CPT-pH-PMs exhibited significantly increased therapeutic efficacy with minimum side effects by other tissues in breast tumor-bearing mice, compared to free CPT and CPT encapsulated PEG-PLLA micelles. The tumoral acidic pH-responsive polymeric micelles are highly useful for cancer targeting therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-266
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jun

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was financially supported by the Real-Time Molecular Imaging Project , 2009k001594, 2009k001595 and WCU program ( R33-2008-10054-0 ) of MEST, and by a grant of BK21 BNT Scientist Renovating for the Drug Development Coping with Aged Society, and Advanced Medical Technology Cluster for Diagnosis and Prediction at Kyungpook National University from MOCIE and by Seoul R&BD Program (10524).


  • Camptothecin
  • Cancer targeting drug delivery
  • PH-responsive polymeric micelle
  • Tumoral acidic microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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