Drug Delivery and Translational Research
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a malignant tumor that affects many patients diagnosed with hepatic cell inflammation and liver cirrhosis. Targeted polymeric nanocapsules could facilitate the internalization and accumulation of anticancer drugs. Dual-targeted folic acid/lactobionic acid-poly lactic co-glycolic acid nanocapsules (NCs) were prepared and loaded with pterostilbene (PTN) and characterized for their physicochemical properties, as well as in vitro and in vivo anticancer activity. NCs displayed a size of 222 nm, zeta potential of − 16.5 mV, and sustained release for 48 h. The IC50 of PTN NCs (5.87 ± 0.8 µg/mL) was 20 times lower than unencapsulated PTN (121.26 ± 9.42 µg/mL) on HepG2 liver cancer cells owing to the enhanced cellular uptake of the former, as delineated by flow cytometry. In vivo study on HCC-induced animals delineated the superiority of the dual-targeted NCs over the unencapsulated PTN, which significantly reduced the liver markers ALT, AST, and ALP, as well as the tumor-related markers AFP and Bcl2, and elevated the anti-apoptotic marker caspase 3. Furthermore, the NCs significantly reduced the oxidative stress and exhibited almost comparable histological features to the normal group. Therefore, it can be concluded that the dual-ligated folic acid/lactobionic acid nanocapsules can be considered a promising potential treatment option for hepatocellular carcinoma.