PEG-derivatized embelin as a nanomicellar carrier for delivery of paclitaxel to breast and prostate cancers

Jianqin Lu, Yixian Huang, Wenchen Zhao, Rebecca T. Marquez, Xiaojie Meng, Jiang Li, Xiang Gao, Raman Venkataramanan, Zhou Wang, Song Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Paclitaxel (PTX) is one of the most effective chemotherapeutic agents for a wide spectrum of cancers, but its therapeutic benefit is often limited by severe side effects. We have developed a micelle-based PTX formulation based on a simple conjugate derived from polyethylene glycol 5000 (PEG5K) and embelin (EB). Embelin is a natural product and exhibits antitumor activity through blocking the activity of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP). PEG5K-EB2 conjugate self-assembles to form stable micelles in aqueous solution and efficiently encapsulates hydrophobic drugs such as PTX. PEG5K-EB2 micelles have a relatively low CMC of 0.002 mg/mL (0.35 μm) with sizes in the range of 20 ∼ 30 nm with or without loaded PTX. In vitro cell uptake study showed that the PEG5K-EB2 micelles were efficiently taken up by tumor cells. In vitro release study showed that PTX formulated in PEG5K-EB2 micelles was slowly released over 5 days with much slower release kinetics than that of Taxol formulation. PTX formulated in PEG5K-EB2 micelles exhibited more potent cytotoxicity than Taxol in several cultured tumor cell lines. Total body near infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging showed that PEG5K-EB2 micelles were selectively accumulated at tumor site with minimal uptake in major organs including liver and spleen. PTX-loaded PEG5K-EB2 micelles demonstrated an excellent safety profile with a maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of 100-120 mg PTX/kg in mice, which was significantly higher than that for Taxol (15-20 mg PTX/kg). Finally, PTX formulated in PEG5K-EB2 micelles showed superior antitumor activity compared to Taxol in murine models of breast and prostate cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1591-1600
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer therapy
  • Controlled drug release
  • Drug delivery
  • Embelin
  • Nanomicelles
  • Paclitaxel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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