A cell-based biomimetic delivery system characterized by its “Trojan horse” property is developed, in which the PDA-Ce6 nanoparticles were loaded in the MSCs for tumor-targeted delivery and combination PDT/PTT for retarding lung melanoma metastasis.
Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-based biomimetic delivery has been actively explored for drug accumulation and penetration into tumors by taking advantage of the tumor-tropic and penetration properties of MSCs. In this work, we further demonstrated the feasibility of MSC-mediated nano drug delivery, which was characterized by the “Trojan horse”-like transport via an endocytosis–exocytosis–endocytosis process between MSCs and cancer cells. Chlorin e6 (Ce6)-conjugated polydopamine nanoparticles (PDA-Ce6) were developed and loaded into the MSCs. Phototherapeutic agents are safe to the MSCs, and their very low dark toxicity causes no impairment of the inherent properties of MSCs, including tumor-homing ability. The MSCs loaded with PDA-Ce6 (MSC-PDA-Ce6) were able to target and penetrate into tumors and exocytose 60% of the payloads in 72 h. The released PDA-Ce6 NPs could penetrate deep and be re-endocytosed by the cancer cells. MSC-PDA-Ce6 tended to accumulate in the lungs and delivered PDA-Ce6 into the tumors after intravenous injection in the mouse model with lung melanoma metastasis. Phototoxicity can be selectively triggered in the tumors by sequentially treating with near-infrared irradiation to induce photodynamic therapy (PDT) and photothermal therapy (PTT). The MSC-based biomimetic delivery of PDA-Ce6 nanoparticles is a potential method for dual phototherapy against lung melanoma metastasis.