Nano Research

Article Title

NGR-tagged nano-gold: A new CD13-selective carrier for cytokine delivery to tumors


Asn-Gly-Arg (NGR), isoAsp-Gly-Arg (isoDGR), CD13, integrin, tumor necrosis factor, albumin, gold nanoparticles


Colloidal gold (Au), a well-tolerated nanomaterial, is currently exploited for several applications in nanomedicine. We show that gold nanoparticles tagged with a novel tumor-homing peptide containing Asn-Gly-Arg (NGR), a ligand of CD13 expressed by the tumor neovasculature, can be exploited as carriers for cytokine delivery to tumors. Biochemical and functional studies showed that the NGR molecular scaffold/linker used for gold functionalization is critical for CD13 recognition. Using fibrosarcoma-bearing mice, NGR-tagged nanodrugs could deliver extremely low, yet pharmacologically active doses of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), an anticancer cytokine, to tumors with no evidence of toxicity. Mechanistic studies confirmed that CD13 targeting was a primary mechanism of drug delivery and excluded a major role of integrin targeting consequent to NGR deamidation, a degradation reaction that generates the isoAsp-Gly-Arg (isoDGR) integrin ligand. NGR-tagged gold nanoparticles can be used, in principle, as a novel platform for single- or multi-cytokine delivery to tumor endothelial cells for cancer therapy.

Graphical Abstract


Tsinghua University Press