Nanoparticle strategies for cancer therapeutics: Nucleic acids, polyamines, bovine serum amine oxidase and iron oxide nanoparticles (Review)

Enzo Agostinelli, Fabio Vianello, Giuseppe Magliulo, Thresia Thomas, T. J. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Nanotechnology for cancer gene therapy is an emerging field. Nucleic acids, polyamine analogues and cytotoxic products of polyamine oxidation, generated in situ by an enzyme-catalyzed reaction, can be developed for nanotechnology-based cancer therapeutics with reduced systemic toxicity and improved therapeutic efficacy. Nucleic acid-based gene therapy approaches depend on the compaction of DNA/RNA to nanoparticles and polyamine analogues are excellent agents for the condensation of nucleic acids to nanoparticles. Polyamines and amine oxidases are found in higher levels in tumours compared to that of normal tissues. Therefore, the metabolism of polyamines spermidine and spermine, and their diamine precursor, putrescine, can be targets for antineoplastic therapy since these naturally occurring alkylamines are essential for normal mammalian cell growth. Intracellular polyamine concentrations are maintained at a cell type-specific set point through the coordinated and highly regulated interplay between biosynthesis, transport, and catabolism. In particular, polyamine catabolism involves copper-containing amine oxidases. Several studies showed an important role of these enzymes in developmental and disease-related processes in animals through the control of polyamine homeostasis in response to normal cellular signals, drug treatment, and environmental and/or cellular stress. The production of toxic aldehydes and reactive oxygen species (ROS), H2O2 in particular, by these oxidases suggests a mechanism by which amine oxidases can be exploited as antineoplastic drug targets. The combination of bovine serum amine oxidase (BSAO) and polyamines prevents tumour growth, particularly well if the enzyme has been conjugated with a biocompatible hydrogel polymer. The findings described herein suggest that enzymatically formed cytotoxic agents activate stress signal transduction pathways, leading to apoptotic cell death. Consequently, superparamagnetic nanoparticles or other advanced nanosystem based on directed nucleic acid assemblies, polyamine-induced DNA condensation, and bovine serum amine oxidase may be proposed for futuristic anticancer therapy utilizing nucleic acids, polyamines and BSAO. BSAO based nanoparticles can be employed for the generation of cytotoxic polyamine metabolites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-16
Number of pages12
JournalInternational journal of oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


  • Biomaterials
  • Bovine serum amine oxidase
  • DNA nanoparticles
  • Gene therapy
  • Magnetic nanoparticles
  • Multidrug resistance
  • Polyamines


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