Nanoparticles in Neurosurgery

Nanoparticles have been emerged as a promising platform to treat different types of tumors due to their ability to transport drugs to target sites while minimizing adverse effects.

Hyaluronan (HA)-grafted lipid-based nanoparticles (LNPs). These LNPs having an ionized lipid were previously shown to be highly effective in delivering small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) into various cell types. LNP’s surface was functionalized with hyaluronan (HA), a naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan that specifically binds the CD44 receptor expressed on GBM cells.

Cohen et al. found that HA-LNPs can successfully bind to glioblastoma GBM cell lines and primary neurosphers of GBM patients. HA-LNPs loaded with Polo-Like Kinase 1 (PLK1) siRNAs (siPLK1) dramatically reduced the expression of PLK1 mRNA and cumulated in cell death even under shear flow that simulate the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid compared with control groups. Next, a human GBM U87MG orthotopic xenograft model was established by intracranial injection of U87MG cells into nude mice. Convection of Cy3-siRNA entrapped in HA-LNPs was performed, and specific Cy3 uptake was observed in U87MG cells. Moreover, convection of siPLK1 entrapped in HA-LNPs reduced mRNA levels by more than 80% and significantly prolonged survival of treated mice in the orthotopic model. Taken together, this results suggest that RNAi therapeutics could effectively be delivered in a localized manner with HA-coated LNPs and ultimately may become a therapeutic modality for GBM 1).


Cy5.5 conjugated MnO nanoparticles for magnetic resonance/near-infrared fluorescence dual-modal imaging of brain gliomas 2).


Solid lipid nanoparticles (SLNs) conjugated with tamoxifen (TX) and lactoferrin (Lf) were applied to carry anticancer carmustine (BCNU) across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) for enhanced antiproliferation against glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). BCNU-loaded SLNs with modified TX and Lf (TX-Lf-BCNU-SLNs) were used to penetrate a monolayer of human brain-microvascular endothelial cells (HBMECs) and human astrocytes and to target malignant U87MG cells. The surface TX and Lf on TX-Lf-BCNU-SLNs improved the characteristics of sustained release for BCNU. When compared with BCNU-loaded SLNs, TX-Lf-BCNU-SLNs increased the BBB permeability coefficient for BCNU about ten times. In addition, TX-BCNU-SLNs considerably promoted the fluorescent intensity of intracellular acetomethoxy derivative of calcein (calcein-AM) in HBMECs via endocytosis. However, the conjugated Lf could only slightly increase the fluorescence of calcein-AM. Moreover, the order of formulation in the inhibition to U87MG cells was TX-Lf-BCNU-SLNs>TX-BCNU-SLNs>Lf-BCNU-SLNs>BCNU-SLNs. TX-Lf-BCNU-SLNs can be effective in infiltrating the BBB and delivering BCNU to GBM for future chemotherapy application 3)


Senders et al., systematically review all clinically tested fluorescent agents for application in fluorescence guided surgery (FGS) for glioma and all preclinically tested agents with the potential for FGS for glioma.

They searched the PubMed and Embase databases for all potentially relevant studies through March 2016.

They assessed fluorescent agents by the following outcomes: rate of gross total resection (GTR), overall and progression free survival, sensitivity and specificity in discriminating tumor and healthy brain tissue, tumor-to-normal ratio of fluorescent signal, and incidence of adverse events.

The search strategy resulted in 2155 articles that were screened by titles and abstracts. After full-text screening, 105 articles fulfilled the inclusion criteria evaluating the following fluorescent agents: 5 aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) (44 studies, including three randomized control trials), fluorescein (11), indocyanine green (five), hypericin (two), 5-aminofluorescein-human serum albumin (one), endogenous fluorophores (nine) and fluorescent agents in a pre-clinical testing phase (30). Three meta-analyses were also identified.

5-ALA is the only fluorescent agent that has been tested in a randomized controlled trial and results in an improvement of GTR and progression-free survival in high-grade gliomas. Observational cohort studies and case series suggest similar outcomes for FGS using fluorescein. Molecular targeting agents (e.g., fluorophore/nanoparticle labeled with anti-EGFR antibodies) are still in the pre-clinical phase, but offer promising results and may be valuable future alternatives. 4).


1) Cohen ZR, Ramishetti S, Peshes-Yaloz N, Goldsmith M, Wohl A, Zibly Z, Peer D. Localized RNAi Therapeutics of Chemoresistant Grade IV Glioma Using Hyaluronan-Grafted Lipid-Based Nanoparticles. ACS Nano. 2015 Jan 8. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 25558928.
2) Chen N, Shao C, Li S, Wang Z, Qu Y, Gu W, Yu C, Ye L. Cy5.5 conjugated MnO nanoparticles for magnetic resonance/near-infrared fluorescence dual-modal imaging of brain gliomas. J Colloid Interface Sci. 2015 Jun 30;457:27-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jcis.2015.06.046. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26151564.
3) Kuo YC, Cheng SJ. Brain targeted delivery of carmustine using solid lipid nanoparticles modified with tamoxifen and lactoferrin for antitumor proliferation. Int J Pharm. 2016 Feb 29;499(1-2):10-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2015.12.054. Epub 2015 Dec 22. PubMed PMID: 26721730.
4) Senders JT, Muskens IS, Schnoor R, Karhade AV, Cote DJ, Smith TR, Broekman ML. Agents for fluorescence-guided glioma surgery: a systematic review of preclinical and clinical results. Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2017 Jan;159(1):151-167. doi: 10.1007/s00701-016-3028-5. Review. PubMed PMID: 27878374; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5177668.

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