Delivery of tumor-homing TRAIL sensitizer with long-acting TRAIL as a therapy for TRAIL-resistant tumors

Yumin Oh, Magdalena Swierczewska, Tae Hyung Kim, Sung Mook Lim, Ha Na Eom, Jae Hyung Park, Dong Hee Na, Kwangmeyung Kim, Kang Choon Lee, Martin G. Pomper, Seulki Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) has attracted great interest as a cancer therapy because it selectively induces death receptor (DR)-mediated apoptosis in cancer cells while sparing normal tissue. However, recombinant human TRAIL demonstrates limited therapeutic efficacy in clinical trials, possibly due to TRAIL-resistance of primary cancers and its inherent short half-life. Here we introduce drug delivery approaches to maximize in vivo potency of TRAIL in TRAIL-resistant tumor xenografts by (1) extending the half-life of the ligand with PEGylated TRAIL (TRAILPEG) and (2) concentrating a TRAIL sensitizer, selected from in vitro screening, in tumors via tumor-homing nanoparticles. Antitumor efficacy of TRAILPEG with tumor-homing sensitizer was evaluated in HCT116 and HT-29 colon xenografts. Western blot, real-time PCR, immunohistochemistry and cell viability assays were employed to investigate mechanisms of action and antitumor efficacy of the combination. We discovered that doxorubicin (DOX) sensitizes TRAIL-resistant HT-29 colon cancer cells to TRAIL by upregulating mRNA expression of DR5 by 60% in vitro. Intravenously administered free DOX does not effectively upregulate DR5 in tumor tissues nor demonstrate synergy with TRAILPEG in HT-29 xenografts, but rather introduces significant systemic toxicity. Alternatively, when DOX was encapsulated in hyaluronic acid-based nanoparticles (HAC/DOX) and intravenously administered with TRAILPEG, DR-mediated apoptosis was potentiated in HT-29 tumors by upregulating DR5 protein expression by 70% and initiating both extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic pathways with reduced systemic toxicity compared to HAC/DOX or free DOX combined with TRAILPEG (80% vs. 40% survival rate; 75% vs. 34% tumor growth inhibition). This study demonstrates a unique approach to overcome TRAIL-based therapy drawbacks using sequential administration of a tumor-homing TRAIL sensitizer and long-acting TRAILPEG.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-681
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
StatePublished - 28 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Apoptosis
  • Death receptors
  • Nanomedicine
  • TRAIL sensitizers


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