Folic acid-modified nanocrystalline cellulose for enhanced delivery and anti-cancer effects of crocin


Sci Rep. 2024 Jun 17;14(1):13985. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-64758-2.


Crocin is a carotenoid compound in saffron with anti-cancer properties. However, its therapeutic application is limited by its low absorption, bioavailability, and stability, which can be overcome through nanocarrier delivery systems. This study used surface-modified Nano-crystalline cellulose (NCC) to deliver crocin to cancer cells. NCC modified with CTAB were loaded with crocin and then conjugated with folic acid (NCF-CR-NPs). The synthesized nanoparticles (NPs) were characterized using FTIR, XRD, DLS, and FESEM. The crystallinity index of NCC was 66.64%, higher than microcrystalline cellulose (61.4%). The crocin loading and encapsulation efficiency in NCF-CR-NPs were evaluated. Toxicity testing by MTT assay showed that NCF-CR-NPs had higher toxicity against various cancer cell lines, including colon cancer HT-29 cells (IC50 ~ 11.6 μg/ml), compared to free crocin. Fluorescent staining, flow cytometry, and molecular analysis confirmed that NCF-CR-NPs induced apoptosis in HT-29 cells by increasing p53 and caspase 8 expression. The antioxidant capacity of NCF-CR-NPs was also evaluated using ABTS and DPPH radical scavenging assays. NCF-CR-NPs exhibited high free radical scavenging ability, with an IC50 of ~ 46.5 μg/ml for ABTS. In conclusion, this study demonstrates the potential of NCF-CR-NPs to deliver crocin to cancer cells effectively. The NPs exhibited enhanced anti-cancer and antioxidant activities compared to free crocin, making them a promising nanocarrier system for crocin-based cancer therapy.

PMID:38886450 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-024-64758-2