Enriching lipid nanovesicles with short-chain glucosylceramide improves doxorubicin delivery and efficacy in solid tumors

Menno Van Lummel, Wim J. Van Blitterswijk, Stefan R. Vink, Robert Jan Veldman, Martin A. Van Der Valk, Debby Schipper, Bilyana M. Dicheva, Alexander M.M. Eggermont, Timo L.M. Ten Hagen, Marcel Verheij, Gerben A. Koning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


For amphiphilic anticancer drugs, such as the anthracyclin doxorubicin (Dox), uptake by tumor cells involves slow diffusion across the plasma membrane, a limiting factor in clinical oncology. Previously, we discovered that preinsertion of short-chain sphingolipids such as N-octanoyl-glucosylceramide (GC) in the tumor cell membrane enhances cellular Dox uptake. In the present study, we apply this strategy in vitro and in vivo by coadministering GC and Dox in a lipid nanovesicle (LNV). GC enrichment of Dox-LNVs strongly enhanced in vitro cytotoxicity toward B16 melanoma and A431 carcinoma, as evidenced by 6-fold decreased IC50 values compared with Dox-LNVs. This correlated with enhanced cellular Dox uptake observed by confocal microscopy. Intravital optical imaging in window chamber-bearing mice with orthotopically implanted B16 melanoma demonstrated enhanced GC-mediated Dox delivery to tumor cells. Treatment of nude mice bearing human A431 xenografts with 6 mg/kg GC-Dox-LNVs almost doubled the tumor growth delay compared with Dox-LNVs. A second administration of 5 mg/kg after 3 d induced even 3-fold delay in tumor growth, while no systemic toxicity was found. GC-enriched Dox-LNVs displayed superior in vitro and in vivo antitumor activity, without systemic toxicity. This new drug delivery concept, aiming at increased membrane permeability for amphiphilic drugs, provides an opportunity to improve cancer chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-289
Number of pages10
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell membrane permeability
  • Chemotherapy
  • Liposome
  • Nanomedicine
  • Short-chain sphingolipid


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