Preparation of end-capped pH-sensitive mesoporous silica nanocarriers for on-demand drug delivery

André F. Moreira, Vítor M. Gaspar, Elisabete C. Costa, Duarte De Melo-Diogo, Paulo Machado, Catarina M. Paquete, Ilídio J. Correia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Nanocarriers with a pH responsive behavior are receiving an ever growing attention due to their potential for promoting on-demand drug release and thus increase the therapeutic effectiveness of anti-tumoral pharmaceutics. However, the majority of these systems require costly, time-consuming and complex chemical modifications of materials or drugs to synthesize nanoparticles with pH triggered release. Herein, the development of dual drug loaded pH-responsive mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) with a calcium carbonate-based coating is presented as an effective alternative. This innovative approach allowed the loading of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (Ibuprofen) and Doxorubicin, with high efficiency. The resulting dual drug loaded MSNs have spherical morphology and a mean size of 171 nm. Our results indicate that under acidic conditions the coating disassembles and the drugs are rapidly released, whereas at physiologic pH the release is slower and gradually increases with time. Furthermore, an improved cytotoxic effect was obtained for Doxorubicin-Ibuprofen MSNs coated with CaCO3 in comparison with non-coated particles. The cytotoxic effect of dual loaded carbonate coated particles, was similar to that of Doxorubicin + Ibuprofen free drug administration at 72 h, even with the delivery of a significantly lower amount of drug by MSNs-CaCO3. These results suggest that the carbonate coating of MSNs is a promising approach to create a pH-sensitive template for a delivery system with application in cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1012-1025
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Calcium carbonate
  • Cancer therapy
  • Co-delivery
  • Inorganic nanoparticles
  • pH responsive
  • Prostate cancer


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