Laboratory of Biochemistry and Biomedical Materials, College of Marine Life Sciences, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266003, PR China; Laboratory for Marine Drugs and Bioproducts of Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao 266235, PR China. Electronic address: [Email]
Novel polymer-drug conjugates (CNC) were prepared from carboxymethyl chitosan (CMCS) and norcantharidin (NCTD) via amidation reaction and characterized by FTIR and 1H NMR spectroscopy. The aim of this study was to elucidate the antitumor efficacy of CNC on gastric cancer and the possible underlying mechanisms. The CNC conjugates possessed significant inhibitory effects on the proliferation of SGC-7901 cells and suppressed the migration as well as tube formation of HUVECs. Besides, Hoechst 33258 staining and Annexin V-FITC/PI detection suggested that the conjugates were more effective in triggering apoptosis of SGC-7901 cells compared with free NCTD. Moreover, CNC remarkably reduced systemic toxicity and enhanced the antitumor efficacy in vivo with a tumor suppression rate of 59.57% against SGC-7901 gastric tumor in BALB/c nude mice. Further investigation about the underlying mechanisms indicated that CNC could upregulate expressions of TNF-α and Bax, and downregulate expressions of VEGF, Bcl-2, MMP-2 and MMP-9, thereby inhibiting tumor metastasis and inducing apoptosis in vivo. Overall, our results demonstrated that CNC might be a promising and feasible polymer therapeutics for gastrointestinal tumor therapy.