Inhibition of glioma cells’ proliferation by doxorubicin-loaded exosomes via microfluidics

Malignant glioma is a fatal brain cancer. Accumulated evidence has demonstrated that exosomes can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB), suggesting their potential use as drug delivery vehicles to glioma. Therefore, various loading methods of anticancer agents into exosomes have been developed. However, the loading efficiency of anticancer drugs, such as doxorubicin (DOX) and paclitaxel (PTX), into exosomes is relatively low, thus challenging to improve the drug delivery efficiency to glioma cells (GMs) via exosomes.

To improve the loading efficiency of doxorubicin into exosomes, researchers from the City University of Hong Kong have developed a microfluidic device (Exo-Load). Next, to increase the exosomal delivery of doxorubicin to GMs, autologous exosomes were used for its loading via Exo-Load. Briefly, exosomes from SF7761 stem cells-like- and U251-GMs were isolated and characterized by nano-tracking analysis (NTA), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and immunogold EM. Finally, doxorubicin was successfully loaded into exosomes with saponin by Exo-Load, and the uptake and functionality of doxorubicin-loaded exosomes for parent GMs were evaluated.

The loading efficiency of DOX into SF7761 stem cells-like- and U251-GMs-derived-exosomes were 19.7% and 7.86% via Exo-Load at the injection flow rate of 50 µL/min, respectively. Interestingly, the loading efficiency of DOX into U251 GMs-derived exosomes was significantly improved to 31.98% by a sigmoid type of Exo-Load at the injection flow rate of 12.5 µL/min. Importantly, DOX-loaded GMs-derived exosomes via Exo-Load inhibited parent GMs’ proliferation more than heterologous GMs, supporting exosomes’ homing effect.

This study revealed that DOX and PTX could be loaded in exosomes via Exo-Load, demonstrating that Exo-Load could be a potential drug-loading device into exosomes with further optimization. This study also demonstrated that the delivery of DOX to SF7761 GMs via their daughter exosomes was much more efficient rather than U251 GMs-derived exosomes, supporting that the use of autologous exosomes could be better for glioma drug targeting.

Drug loading into exosomes by Exo-Load

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Schematic representation of the doxorubicin loading into exosomes via the Exo-Load microfluidic device in the presence of saponin.

Thakur A, Sidu RK, Zou H, Alam MK, Yang M, Lee Y. (2020) Inhibition of Glioma Cells’ Proliferation by Doxorubicin-Loaded Exosomes via Microfluidics. Int J Nanomedicine 15:8331-8343. [article]

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