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Low-dose (LD) chemotherapy is a promising treatment strategy that may be improved by controlled delivery. Polyethylene glycol-stabilized bilayer-decorated magnetoliposomes (dMLs) have been designed as a stimuli-responsive LD chemotherapy drug delivery system and tested in vitro using Huh-7 hepatocellular carcinoma cell line. The dMLs contained hydrophobic superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles within the lipid bilayer and doxorubicin hydrochloride (DOX, 2 μM) within the aqueous core. Structural analysis by cryogenic transmission electron microscopy and dynamic light scattering showed that the assemblies were approximately 120 nm in diameter. Furthermore, the samples consisted of a mixture of dMLs and bare liposomes (no nanoparticles), which provided dual burst and spontaneous DOX release profiles, respectively. Cell viability results show that the cytotoxicity of DOX-loaded dMLs was similar to that of bare dMLs (∼10%), which indicates that spontaneous DOX leakage had little cytotoxic effect. However, when subjected to a physiologically acceptable radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic field, cell viability was reduced up to 40% after 8 h and significant cell death (>90%) was observed after 24 h. The therapeutic mechanism was intracellular RF-triggered DOX release from the dMLs and not intracellular hyperthermia due to nanoparticle heating via magnetic losses.

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