The metastatic stage-dependent mucosal expression of sialic acid is a potential marker for targeting colon cancer with cationic polymers

Abdel Kareem Azab, Jackie Kleinstern, Morris Srebnik, Abraham Rubinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purpose. Locoregional recurrence is the most common complication after adenocarcinoma resection in the colon, despite adjuvant chemotherapy. Therapy efficacy could be improved if designed to target malignant cells by incorporating specific recognition factors in the drugs or the drug vehicles. The aim of this study was to elucidate whether the overexpression of sialic acid (SA) on colonic malignant tissues could be utilized for drug targeting by cationic polymers. Materials and Methods. Cell lines (IEC-6, SW-480 and SW-620) and colon polyps and normal adjacent tissues harvested from dimethylhydrazine (DMH) induced rats were used as in vitro and in vivo models of different metastatic stages of colon cancer. SA expression was identified by fluorescent wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), and verified by pretreatment with neuraminidase. The role of mucus in the mucosal binding experiments was explored by pretreatment with dithiothreitol (DTT). The binding of FITC labeled cationic polymers of various degrees of cationization to normal and malignant colonic cells and tissue was measured. Results. SA was overexpressed on malignant colonic cells and tissues, and its expression correlated to the metastatic stage in vitro. The binding of the cationic copolymers to the cell lines and tissues correlated with the charge density of the polymer and with the metastatic stage of the cell line. The interaction between the malignant colonic cells and tissues with the polymers was SA dependent and increased after mucus removal. Conclusion. Cationic polymers could be used as a targeting tool to colonic malignant epithelium, to be implemented in drug delivery and diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-386
Number of pages8
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Cationic polymers
  • Colon cancer
  • Drug targeting
  • Rat model
  • Sialic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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