Malignant gliomas are difficult to treat in clinical practice. This study was aimed to investigate the preclinical efficacy of CRLX101, an investigational nanoparticle-drug conjugate developed by conjugating camptothecin (CPT) with cyclodextrin-polyethylene glycol, against gliomas. CPT fluorescence was detected across tight-junction barriers and in mouse plasma and brain. Following CRLX101 treatment, CPT was distributed in the cytoplasm of human U87 MG glioma cells. U87 MG cell viability was decreased by CRLX101 and CPT. Moreover, CRLX101 induced less cytotoxicity to human astrocytes compared to CPT. Exposure of U87 MG cells to CRLX101 induced G2/M cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Administration of CRLX101 induced apoptosis in mice brain tumor tissues and prolonged the survival rate of mice. In addition, CRLX101 inhibited hypoxia and angiogenesis by suppressing the expression of carbonic anhydrase IX, vascular endothelial growth factor, and CD31 in tumor sections. Taken together, this preclinical study showed that CRLX101 possesses antitumor abilities by inducing cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in glioma cells and inhibiting tumor angiogenesis, thereby prolonging the lifespan of mice bearing intracranial gliomas. These data support further research of CRLX101 in patients with brain tumors.
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