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Despite the highly expected clinical application of nanoparticles (NPs), the translation of NPs from lab to the clinic has been relatively slow. Co-culture 3D spheroids account for the 3D arrangement of tumor cells and stromal components, e.g., cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and extracellular matrix, recapitulating microenvironment of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). In the present study, we investigated how the stroma-rich tumor microenvironment affects the uptake, penetration, and photodynamic efficiency of three lipid-based nanoformulations of approved in EU photosensitizer temoporfin (mTHPC): Foslip® (mTHPC in conventional liposomes), drug-in-cyclodextrin-in-liposomes (mTHPC-DCL) and extracellular vesicles (mTHPC-EVs). Collagen expression in co-culture stroma-rich 3D HNSCC spheroids correlates with the amount of CAFs (MeWo cells) in individual spheroid. The assessment of mTHPC loading demonstrated that Foslip®, mTHPC-DCL and mTHPC-EVs encapsulated 0.05 × 10- 15 g, 0.07 × 10- 15 g, and 1.3 × 10- 15 g of mTHPC per nanovesicle, respectively. The mid-penetration depth of mTHPC NPs in spheroids was 47.8 µm (Foslip®), 87.8 µm (mTHPC-DCL), and 49.7 µm (mTHPC-EVs), irrespective of the percentage of stromal components. The cellular uptake of Foslip® and mTHPC-DCL was significantly higher in stroma-rich co-culture spheroids and was increasing upon the addition of serum in the culture medium. Importantly, we observed no significant difference between PDT effect in monoculture and co-culture spheroids treated with lipid-based NPs. Overall, in all types of spheroids mTHPC-EVs demonstrated outstanding total cellular uptake and PDT efficiency comparable to other NPs. The stromal microenvironment strongly affects the uptake of NPs, while the penetration and PDT efficacy are less sensitive to the presence of stromal components. mTHPC-EVs outperform other lipid nanovesicles due to the extremely high loading capacity. The results of the present study enlarge our understanding of how stroma components affect the delivery of NPs into the tumors.


Ilya Yakavets, Aurelie Francois, Laureline Lamy, Max Piffoux, Florence Gazeau, Claire Wilhelm, Vladimir Zorin, Amanda K A Silva, Lina Bezdetnaya. Effect of stroma on the behavior of temoporfin-loaded lipid nanovesicles inside the stroma-rich head and neck carcinoma spheroids. Journal of nanobiotechnology. 2021 Jan 06;19(1):3

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PMID: 33407564

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