Get access

Nanoparticles exposing neurotensin tumor-specific drivers


  • Special issue devoted to contributions presented at the 13th Naples Workshop on Bioactive Peptides, June 7-10, 2012, Naples.

Correspondence to: Chiara Falciani, Department of Medical Biotechnology, University of Siena, Via Fiorentina 1, 53100 Siena, Italy. E-mail:


Nanoparticles have attracted much attention for their potential application as in vivo carriers of drugs. Labeling of nanoparticles with bioactive markers that are able to direct them toward specific biological target receptors has led to a new generation of drug delivery systems. In particular, low molecular weight peptides that remain stable in vivo could be promising tools to selectively drive nanoparticles loaded with active components to tumor cells.

We reported, recently, that tetrabranched neurotensin peptides (NT4) may be used to selectively target tumor cells with liposomes. Liposomes functionalized with tetrabranched neurotensin peptide, NT4, and loaded with doxorubicin showed clear advantages in cell binding, anthracyclin internalization, and cytotoxicity in respect of not functionalized liposomes.

In this study, we compare branched (NT4) versus linear (NT) peptides in the ability to drive liposomes to target cells and deliver their toxic cargo. We showed here that the more densely decorated liposomes had a better activity profile in terms of drug delivery. Presentation of peptides to the cell membranes in the grouped shape provided by branched structure facilitates liposome cell binding and fusion. Copyright © 2013 European Peptide Society and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.