Biodegradable nanocarriers based on chitosan-modified mesoporous silica nanoparticles for delivery of methotrexate for application in breast cancer treatment

Zahra Shakeran, Mehrnaz Keyhanfar, Jaleh Varshosaz, Duncan S. Sutherland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


Nanocarriers have demonstrated great promise in the delivery of hydrophobic drugs particularly to tumor spaces by enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effects. Mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) are the attractive nanocarrier system to reduce the drug's toxic side effects, enable controlled drug release, prevent drug degradation and provide a biocompatible and biodegradable high surface area carrier. Surface-modified MSNs have been applied to increase drug loading and efficiency. In this study, functionalized MSNs loaded with methotrexate (MTX) were designed for use as a cytotoxic agent. The MSNs were first modified with 3-triethoxysilylpropylamine (APTES) and then with chitosan through covalent coupling mediated by glutaraldehyde. The physicochemical properties of the nanoparticles were optimized for each step. The loading percentage (12.2%) and release profile of MTX as an anti-breast cancer drug, loaded at amine-modified MSNs, were measured via high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Moreover, the uptake profiles of fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labeled MSN-APTES-chitosan with or without MTX were monitored on MCF7 cancer cells via confocal microscopy. Following exposure of nanoparticles to body fluids, they were surrounded by specific proteins that may affect their cellular uptake. Hence, the adsorption profiles of protein corona on the surface of MSN, amine-modified MSN and MTX-loaded MSN-APTES-chitosan were analyzed. The cytotoxic potential for killing breast cancer cells was also studied. The MTX loaded MSN-APTES-chitosan showed a positive effect at a low dose (0.5 μM MTX). In this study, we introduce a new method to synthesize biodegradable MSNs with small and uniform particle size, achieve high MTX loading via covalent amine and chitosan-functionalization, monitor the cellular uptake and demonstrate the potential to decrease the viability of breast cancer cells at low dose.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111526
Number of pages18
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • 3-triethoxysilylpropylamine
  • Breast cancer cells
  • Chitosan
  • Mesoporous silica nanoparticle
  • Methotrexate
  • Protein corona


Dive into the research topics of 'Biodegradable nanocarriers based on chitosan-modified mesoporous silica nanoparticles for delivery of methotrexate for application in breast cancer treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this