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Tracking the Footprints of Paclitaxel Delivery and Mechanistic Action via SERS Trajectory in Glioblastoma Cells

The design and development of an efficacious tumor-specific drug-delivery system is a challenging task. In this study, we have synthesized target-specific small peptide substrates on an octaguanidine sorbitol scaffold, named small molecular targeted drug-delivery conjugate (SMTDDC). The SMTDDC fabrication, with dual targeting cRGD and Cathepsin B (Cath B)-specific tripeptide (Glu-Lys-Phe), altered the microtubule network of glioblastoma cells by the orchestrated release of the cytotoxic paclitaxel (PTX). Cath B assisted PTX delivery was monitored by high-performance liquid chromatography and Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) modalities. The time-dependent SERS fingerprinting and imaging revealed a fast and accurate PTX release profile and subsequent in vitro cytotoxicity as well as the apoptotic events and microtubule network alteration in U-87 MG glioblastoma cells. Furthermore, SMTDDC displayed adequate stability under physiological conditions and demonstrated biocompatibility toward red blood cells and lymphocytes. This study indicated a new insight on SERS-guided peptidomimetic sorbitol molecular transporter, enabling a greater promise with high potential for the further development of PTX delivery in glioblastoma treatment.