• Open Access

NC-6300, an epirubicin-incorporating micelle, extends the antitumor effect and reduces the cardiotoxicity of epirubicin


To whom correspondence should be addressed.

E-mail: yhmatsum@east.ncc.go.jp


Epirubicin is widely used to treat various human tumors. However, it is difficult to achieve a sufficient antitumor effect because of dosage limitation to prevent cardiotoxicity. We hypothesized that epirubicin-incorporating micelle would reduce cardiotoxicity and improve the antitumor effect. NC-6300 comprises epirubicin covalently bound to PEG polyaspartate block copolymer through an acid–labile hydrazone bond. The conjugate forms a micellar structure of 40–80 nm in diameter in an aqueous milieu. NC-6300 (10, 15 mg/kg) and epirubicin (10 mg/kg) were given i.v. three times to mice bearing s.c. or liver xenograft of human hepatocellular carcinoma Hep3B cells. Cardiotoxicity was evaluated by echocardiography in C57BL/6 mice that were given NC-6300 (10 mg/kg) or epirubicin (10 mg/kg) in nine doses over 12 weeks. NC-6300 showed a significantly potent antitumor effect against Hep3B s.c. tumors compared with epirubicin. Moreover, NC-6300 also produced a significantly longer survival rate than epirubicin against the liver orthotopic tumor of Hep3B. With respect to cardiotoxicity, epirubicin-treated mice showed significant deteriorations in fractional shortening and ejection fraction. In contrast, cardiac functions of NC-6300 treated mice were no less well maintained than in control mice. This study warrants a clinical evaluation of NC-6300 in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma or other cancers.