Circumventing drug treatment? Polyethylenimine functionalized nanoparticles inherently and selectively kill patient-derived glioblastoma stem cells

Neeraj Prabhakar, Joni Merisaari, Vadim Le Joncour, Markus Peurla, Didem Şen Karaman, Eudald Casals, Pirjo Laakkonen, Jukka Westermarck, Jessica M. Rosenholm

Forskningsoutput: ArbetsdokumentFörtryck


Glioblastoma (GB) is the most frequent malignant tumor originating from the central nervous system. Despite breakthroughs in treatment modalities for other cancer types, GB remains largely irremediable due to its high degree of intratumoral heterogeneity, infiltrative growth, and intrinsic resistance towards multiple treatments. These resistant and aggressive sub-populations of GBs including the glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs) can circumvent treatment. GSCs act as a reservoir of cancer-initiating cells; they are a major challenge for successful therapy. We have discovered, as opposed to well-reported anti-cancer drug based therapeutical approach for GB therapy, the role of polyethylenimine (PEI) in inducing selective death of patient-derived GSCs via lysosomal membrane rupturing. Even at very low doses (1 μg/ml), PEI surface-functionalized mesoporous silica nanoparticles (PEI-MSNs), without any additional anti-cancer drug, very potently and selectively killed multiple GSC lines. Very importantly, PEI-MSNs did not affect the survival of well-established GB cells, or other type of cancer cells even at 25x higher doses. Remarkably, any sign of predominant cell death pathways such as apoptosis and autophagy was absent. Instead, as a potential explanation for their GSC selective killing function, we demonstrate that the internalized PEI-MSNs accumulated inside the lysosomes, subsequently causing a rupture of the vulnerable lysosomal membranes, exclusively in GSCs. As a further evaluation, we observed blood-brain-barrier (BBB) permeability of these PEI-MSNs in vitro and in vivo. Taking together the recent indications for the vulnerability of GSCs for lysosomal targeting, and GSC selectivity of the PEI-MSNs described here, the results suggest that PEI-functionalized nanoparticles could have a potential role in the eradication of GSCs.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.
StatusPublicerad - 15 dec. 2020
MoE-publikationstypO2 Other


FörlagCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press

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