Anticancer drug-loaded mesenchymal stem cells for targeted cancer therapy

Yukiya Takayama, Kosuke Kusamori, Chihiro Tsukimori, Yosuke Shimizu, Mika Hayashi, Ikumi Kiyama, Hidemasa Katsumi, Toshiyasu Sakane, Akira Yamamoto, Makiya Nishikawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have a tumor-homing ability—they accumulate inside tumors after systemic injection, and may thus be useful as carriers for tumor-targeting therapy. To use MSCs effectively as an anti-cancer therapy, they must first be functionalized with a large amount of anti-cancer drugs without causing any significant changes to their tumor-tropism. In the present study, we attempted to modify the cell surface of MSCs with doxorubicin-loaded liposomes (DOX-Lips), using the avidin-biotin complex method, and evaluated delivery efficiency and anti-tumor efficacy of DOX-Lip-modified MSCs. The amount of DOX in DOX-Lip-modified C3H10T1/2 cells, a murine mesenchymal stem cell line, was approximately 21.5 pg per cell, with no significant changes to the tumor-tropism of C3H10T1/2 cells. Notably, DOX-Lip-modified C3H10T1/2 cells significantly suppressed the proliferation of firefly luciferase-expressing murine colon adenocarcinoma colon26/fluc cells, compared to DOX-Lips alone. Fluorescent DOX accumulated at the cell contact surface and inside green fluorescence protein-expressing colon26 (colon26/GFP) in co-cultures of DOX-Lip-modified C3H10T1/2 and colon26/GFP cells. This localized distribution was not observed when only DOX-Lips was added to colon26/GFP cells. These results suggest that DOX-Lips are efficiently delivered from DOX-Lip-modified C3H10T1/2 cells to the neighboring colon26 cells. Furthermore, DOX-Lip-modified C3H10T1/2 cells suppressed tumor growth in subcutaneous tumor-bearing mice, and in a lung metastasis mouse model. Taken together, these results indicate that the intercellular delivery of DOX may be enhanced using DOX-Lip-modified MSCs as an efficient carrier system for targeted tumor therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1090-1101
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2021


  • Anti-cancer drug
  • Cancer therapy
  • Cell surface modification
  • Intercellular delivery
  • Mesenchymal stem cell

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