• drug delivery;
  • peptide conjugation;
  • hydroxyapatite;
  • bone;
  • fluorescein


Targeting a drug on hydroxyapatite (HA) could be a promising way for selective drug delivery to bone, because HA, an inorganic component in hard tissues (bone and teeth), does not exist in soft tissues. Several bone noncollagenous proteins, which bind to HA, have repeating sequences of acidic amino acids in their structures as possible HA-binding sites. Thus, we think that a small peptide of repetitive acidic amino acid could work as a carrier for selective drug delivery to the bone. To test this hypothesis, we conjugated (Asp)6 to fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC), evaluated its affinity to HA in vitro, and examined its tissue distribution after injection into rats. Although fluorescein itself did not bind to HA, (Asp)6-FITC bound to HA as well as calceine and tetracycline. Twenty-four hours after intravenous injection of (Asp)6-FITC to rats, animals were killed, and ground sections of hard tissues and cryosections of soft tissues were made. Under a confocal laser scanning microscope, clear labeling lines were observed in bones and teeth, whereas no labeling was detected in soft tissues. In the rats administered with fluorescein alone, the fluorescent labeling was detected in neither hard nor soft tissues. Fluorescent analysis of blood, urine, and bones after (Asp)6-FITC administration revealed that biological half-life of FITC in blood was short (60 minutes) and that within 24 h, 95% of the administered FITC was excreted as urine whereas 2% of the FITC accumulated in bones. After subcutaneous administration of (Asp)6-FITC to mice, fluorescent intensity remaining in the femurs was measured periodically. In these mice the biological half-life of FITC in the femur was 14 days. Present results indicate that (Asp)6 is effective as a carrier for selective drug delivery to bone. (J Bone Miner Res 2000;15:936–943)