Controlled Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Delivery to Liver Cancer Cells by Gate-Capped Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles

Mahsa Sedighi, Fereshteh Rahimi*, Mohammad-Ali Shahbazi, Ali Hossein Rezayan, Helene Kettiger, Tomaz Einfalt, Jörg Huwyler, Dominik Witzigmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of primary malignancy in the liver and one of the most common types of cancer worldwide. Its readily increasing mortality rate highlights the urgent need for the development of efficient therapeutic strategies. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) such as sorafenib and sunitinib are used as efficient angiogenesis inhibitors for this purpose. However, despite their pharmacological effects, their transfer into clinical practice is characterized by their poor aqueous solubility and accumulation in off-target tissues, resulting in unfavorable side effects. Here, we report a nanocomposite made of amine-functionalized mesoporous silica nanocomposites (MSNs) that are surface-coated with cerium oxide nanoparticles (CNPs) for the controlled delivery and release of TKIs. Amine-functionalized MSNs were prepared using a sol–gel method and loaded with TKIs. To trap drug molecules into the mesoporous structure, CNPs were covalently conjugated to the surface of MSNs. The synthesis and functionalization steps were controlled using different characterization methods, confirming the desired morphology and structure, the identity of functional groups on the surface, successful coating, and appropriate loading efficiency. Under physiological conditions, CNP-capped MSNs demonstrated a sustained drug release over time as a result of CNPs’ gatekeeping effect on the payloads. Strong cellular interactions with different liver cancer cells and enhanced cellular uptake were also observed in vitro for the gate-capped MSNs. Internalization of nanocomposites induced cell death via the production of reactive oxygen species, and subsequent activation of apoptosis pathways. This study demonstrates that gate-capped MSNs are promising chemotherapeutic vehicles characterized by a sustained drug release profile and high cellular internalization.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcs Applied Bio Materials
Pages (from-to)239-251
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Mesoporous silica nanoparticles
  • Cerium oxide
  • Gatekeeper
  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitor
  • Liver cancer
  • Cancer therapy

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