Combination of multifunctional ursolic acid with kinase inhibitors for anti-cancer drug carrier vesicles

A. Lőrincz, J. Mihály, A. Wacha, Cs Németh, B. Besztercei, P. Gyulavári, Z. Varga, I. Peták, A. Bóta

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5 Scopus citations


A sterically stabilized unilamellar nanocarrier vesicle (SSV) system containing dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine, cholesterol, ursolic acid and PEGylated phospholipid has been developed by exploiting the structural advantages of ursolic acid: by spontaneously attaching to the lipid head groups, it induces curvature at the outer side of the bilayers, allowing the preparation of size-limited vesicles without extrusion. Ursolic acid (UA) also interacts with the PEG chains, supporting steric stabilization even when the amount of PEGylated phospholipid is reduced. Using fluorescence immunohistochemistry, vesicles containing ursolic acid (UA-SSVs) were found to accumulate in the tumor in 3 h on xenografted mouse, suggesting the potential use of these vesicles for passive tumor targeting. Further on, mono- and combination therapy with UA and six different kinase inhibitors (crizotinib, erlotinib, foretinib, gefitinib, refametinib, trametinib) was tested on seven cancer cell-lines. In most combinations synergism was observed, in the case of trametinib even at very low concentration (0.001 μM), which targets the MAPK pathway most often activated in human cancers. The coupled intercalation of UA and trametinib (2:1 molar ratio) into vesicles causes further structural advantageous molecular interactions, promoting the formation of small vesicles. The high drug:lipid molar ratio (~0.5) in the novel type of co-delivery vesicles enables their direct medical application, possibly also overcoming the multidrug resistance effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112481
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Drug carrier
  • Kinase inhibitor
  • Multifunctional liposome
  • Synergism
  • Synergy
  • Ursolic acid


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