Doxorubicin-loaded biodegradable self-assembly zein nanoparticle and its anti-cancer effect: Preparation, in vitro evaluation, and cellular uptake

Fangyuan Dong, Xiaoli Dong, Liping Zhou, Huihui Xiao, Pui Yu Ho, Man Sau Wong, Yi Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer is one top leading cause of the deaths worldwide. Various anticancer drugs, which can effectively kill cancer cells, have been developed in the last decade. However, the problem is still about the low therapeutic index of the drugs, which means that the effective dose of drugs will cause cytotoxicity to normal cells. A strategy based on drug nano-encapsulation is applied to achieve an effective anti-cancer therapy. In this study, we use zein, which is an amphiphilic protein, to make the anti-cancer drug nano-encapsulation. Doxorubicin (DOX), a popular anti-cancer drug, is selected as the core drug. The results show that DOX could be successfully encapsulated into zein to form spherical nanoparticles. The encapsulation efficiency and loading efficiency could reach as high as 90.06% and 15.01. mg/g, respectively. The cumulative release result showed a desired pH-responsible release behavior: DOX could be released faster in acidic buffer solutions (pH 5.0 and 6.5) than neutral one (pH 7.4). The effects of the nano-encapsulation on the anti-proliferation of HeLa cells were also examined. It indicated that, compared with free DOX, the DOX-loaded zein nanoparticles (DOX-zein-NPs) had a better effect on cancer cell killing at low DOX concentrations. We also investigated the cellular uptake of DOX-zein-NPs using confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), flow cytometry, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). And the endocytosis mechanism of DOX-zein-NPs entering into HeLa cells was studied using various endocytosis pathway inhibitors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-331
Number of pages8
JournalColloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Cellular uptake
  • Doxorubicin
  • Drug delivery
  • Nano-encapsulation
  • Zein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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