Retinoid treatment is employed during residual disease treatment in neuroblastoma, where the aim is to induce neural differentiation or death in tumour cells. However, although therapeutically effective, retinoids have only modest benefits and suffer from poor pharmacokinetic properties. In vivo, retinoids induce CYP26 enzyme production in the liver, enhancing their own rapid metabolic clearance, while retinoid resistance in tumour cells themselves is considered to be due in part to increased CYP26 production. Retinoic acid metabolism blocking agents (RAMBAs), which inhibit CYP26 enzymes, can improve retinoic acid (RA) pharmacokinetics in pre-clinical neuroblastoma models. Here, we demonstrate that in cultured neuroblastoma tumour cells, RAMBAs enhance RA action as seen by morphological differentiation, AKT signalling and suppression of MYCN protein. Although active as retinoid enhancers, these RAMBAs are highly hydrophobic and their effective delivery in humans will be very challenging. Here, we demonstrate that such RAMBAs can be loaded efficiently into cationic liposomal particles, where the RAMBAs achieve good bioavailability and activity in cultured tumour cells. This demonstrates the efficacy of RAMBAs in enhancing retinoid signalling in neuroblastoma cells and shows for the first time that liposomal delivery of hydrophobic RAMBAs is a viable approach, providing novel opportunities for their delivery and application in humans.
- neural differentiation
- retinoic acid