한국과학기술연구원, UST KIST School
Hochung Jang1,2, Hyosuk Kim1, Eun Hye Kim1,3, Geonhee Han1,4, Yeongji Jang1,3, Yelee Kim1,3, Jong Won Lee1,4, Sang Chul Shin5, Eunice EunKyeong Kim1, Sun Hwa Kim1,4* and Yoosoo Yang1,2*
1Medicinal Materials Research Center, Biomedical Research Institute, Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), Seoul 02792, Republic of Korea
2Division of Bio-Medical Science and Technology, KIST School, University of Science and Technology, Seoul 02792, Republic of Korea
3Department of Life Sciences, Korea University, Seoul 02841, Republic of Korea
4KU-KIST Graduate School of Converging Science and Technology, Korea University, Seoul 02841, Republic of Korea
5Technological Convergence Center, Research Resources Division, Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), Seoul 02792, Republic of Korea
*Correspondence: Sun Hwa Kim, Yoosoo Yang
Background: Recently, increased attention has been given on exosomes as ideal nanocarriers of drugs owing to their intrinsic properties that facilitate the transport of biomolecular cargos. However, large-scale exosome production remains a major challenge in the clinical application of exosome-based drug delivery systems. Considering its biocompatibility and stability, bovine milk is a suitable natural source for large-scale and stable exosome production. Because the active-targeting ability of drug carriers is essential to maximize therapeutic efficacy and minimize side effects, precise membrane functionalization strategies are required to enable tissue-specific delivery of milk exosomes with difficulty in post-isolation modification.
Methods: In this study, the membrane functionalization of a milk exosome platform modified using a simple post-insertion method was examined comprehensively. Exosomes were engineered from bovine milk (mExo) with surface-tunable modifications for the delivery of tumor-targeting doxorubicin (Dox). The surface modification of mExo was achieved through the hydrophobic insertion of folate (FA)-conjugated lipids.
Results: We have confirmed the stable integration of functionalized PE-lipid chains into the mExo membrane through an optimized post-insertion technique, thereby effectively enhancing the surface functionality of mExo. Indeed, the results revealed that FA-modified mExo (mExo-FA) improved cellular uptake in cancer cells via FA receptor (FR)-mediated endocytosis. The designed mExo-FA selectively delivered Dox to FR-positive tumor cells and triggered notable tumor cell death, as confirmed by in vitro and in vivo analyses.
Conclusions: This simple and easy method for post-isolation modification of the exosomal surface may be used to develop milk-exosome-based drug delivery systems.