Publication Date



Molecular Pharmaceutics


Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients with brain metastasis (BM) face dismal prognosis due to the limited therapeutic efficacy of the currently available treatment options. We previously demonstrated that paclitaxel-loaded PLGA−PEG nanoparticles (NPs) directed to the Fn14 receptor, termed “DARTs”, are more efficacious than Abraxane—an FDA-approved paclitaxel nanoformulation—following intravenous delivery in a mouse model of TNBC BM. However, the precise basis for this difference was not investigated. Here, we further examine the utility of the DART drug delivery platform in complementary xenograft and syngeneic TNBC BM models. First, we demonstrated that, in comparison to nontargeted NPs, DART NPs exhibit preferential association with Fn14-positive human and murine TNBC cell lines cultured in vitro. We next identified tumor cells as the predominant source of Fn14 expression in the TNBC BM-immune microenvironment with minimal expression by microglia, infiltrating macrophages, monocytes, or lymphocytes. We then show that despite similar accumulation in brains harboring TNBC tumors, Fn14-targeted DARTs exhibit significant and specific association with Fn14-positive TNBC cells compared to nontargeted NPs or Abraxane. Together, these results indicate that Fn14 expression primarily by tumor cells in TNBC BMs enables selective DART NP delivery to these cells, likely driving the significantly improved therapeutic efficacy observed in our prior work.


fibroblast growth factor-inducible 14, triple-negative breast cancer, brain metastases, tumor-immune microenvironment, DART nanoparticles, Abraxane

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