This study aimed to enhance the in vivo antitumor effects of camptothecin (CPT), a strong antitumor agent whose delivery is limited by poor aqueous solubility and instability of the active lactone form. CPT was loaded into sterically stabilized, solid lipid nanoparticles (CPT-SLNs) formulated for intravenous administration. The influence of preinjected blank SLNs on the tumor targeting, pharmacokinetics and antitumor activity of CPT-SLNs was investigated. The CPT-SLNs composed of trilaurin-based lipid matrix containing poloxamer188 and pegylated phospholipid as stabilizers were prepared by hot homogenization method and evaluated for in vitro characteristics and in vivo performance. The CPT-SLNs showed an in vitro long-term sustained release pattern and effectively protected the CPT lactone form from hydrolysis under physiological conditions. Notable tumor targeting and tumor growth inhibition were observed after intravenous administration of CPT-SLNs to mice with subcutaneous transplants of CT26 carcinoma cells. In pharmacokinetic studies in rats, CPT-SLNs markedly elevated plasma CPT level and prolonged blood circulation compared to free CPT. Nonetheless, high uptake of CPT-SLNs by reticuloendothelial system (RES)-rich tissues resulted in limited tumor targeting of CPT-SLNs and plasma CPT levels. Preinjection of blank SLNs before administration of CPT-SLNs to tumor-bearing mice substantially reduced the accumulation of CPT-SLNs in RES organs. This led to significantly enhanced tumor targeting, improved pharmacokinetic parameters and increased antitumor efficacy of CPT-SLNs. These results suggested that the in vivo antitumor effects of CPT-SLNs could be further enhanced by preinjection of blank SLNs. Therefore, CPT-SLNs with preinjected blank SLNs could be a potential approach for stable and effective CPT-based cancer therapy.
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