Successful targeting to rat hepatic stellate cells using albumin modified with cyclic peptides that recognize the collagen type VI receptor

L Beljaars*, G Molema, D Schuppan, A Geerts, PJ De Bleser, B Weert, DKF Meijer, K Poelstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

126 Citations (Scopus)


The key pathogenic event in liver fibrosis is the activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSC). Consequently, new antifibrotic therapies are directed toward an inhibition of HSC activities. The aim of the present study was to develop a drug carrier to HSC, which would allow cell-specific delivery of antifibrotic drugs thus enhancing their effectiveness in vivo. We modified human serum albumin (HSA) with 10 cyclic peptide moieties recognizing collagen type VI receptors (C*GRGDSPC*, in which C* denotes the cyclizing cysteine residues) yielding pCVI-HSA. In vivo experiments showed preferential distribution of pCVI-HSA to both fibrotic and normal rat livers (respectively, 62 +/- 6 and 75 +/- 16% of the dose at 10 min after intravenous injection), Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated that pCVI-HSA predominantly bound to HSC in fibrotic livers (73 +/- 14%). In contrast, endothelial cells contributed mostly to the total liver accumulation in normal rats. In vitro studies showed that pCVI-HSA specifically bound to rat HSC, in particular to the activated cells, and showed internalization of pCVI-HSA by these cells. in conclusion, pCVI-HSA may be applied as a carrier to deliver antifibrotic agents to HSC, which may strongly enhance the effectiveness and tissue selectivity of these drugs. This approach has the additional benefit that such carriers may block receptors that play a putative role in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12743-12751
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 28-Apr-2000


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