• reduction;
  • pH sensitivity;
  • co-delivery;
  • gene silencing;
  • chemotherapy;
  • tumor apoptosis

Drug resistance is the greatest challenge in clinical cancer chemotherapy. Co-delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs and siRNA to tumor cells is a vital means to silence drug resistant genes during the course of cancer chemotherapy for an improved chemotherapeutic effect. This study aims at effective co-delivery of siRNA and anticancer drugs to tumor cells. A ternary block copolymer PEG-PAsp(AED)-PDPA consisting of pH-sensitive poly(2-(diisopropyl amino)ethyl methacrylate) (PDPA), reduction-sensitive poly(N-(2,2′-dithiobis(ethylamine)) aspartamide) PAsp(AED), and poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) is synthesized and assembled into a core-shell structural micelle which encapsulated doxorubicin (DOX) in its pH-sensitive core and the siRNA-targeting anti-apoptosis BCL-2 gene (BCL-2 siRNA) in a reduction-sensitive interlayer. At the optimized size and zeta potential, the nanocarriers loaded with DOX and BCL-2 siRNA may effectively accumulate in the tumor site via blood circulation. Moreover, the dual stimuli-responsive design of micellar carriers allows microenviroment-specific rapid release of both DOX and BCL-2 siRNA inside acidic lysosomes with enriched reducing agent, glutathione (GSH, up to 10 mm). Consequently, the expression of anti-apoptotic BCL-2 protein induced by DOX treatment is significantly down-regulated, which results in synergistically enhanced apoptosis of human ovarian cancer SKOV-3 cells and thus dramatically inhibited tumor growth.