The use of nanotechnology in cancer treatment offers exciting opportunities, including the possibility of destroying tumors with minimal damage to healthy tissue by novel targeted drug delivery systems. pH differences between healthy and tumor microenvironment provide pH responsive release of drugs at tumor site via smart nanoparticles. In this study, chitosan coated superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (CS MNPs) were in situ synthesized by ionic crosslinking method as nanocarrier systems and loaded with the drug Bortezomib (Velcade (R)). The drug loading capacity, drug release and stability of CS MNPs were analyzed. CS MNPs were visualized inside the cells by fluorescence microscopy. The cytotoxicity of Bortezomib, CS MNPs and Bortezomib loaded CS MNPs were tested by XTT analyses in vitro. Gene expression analyses revealed that pro-apoptotic PUMA and NOXA genes were upregulated while anti-apoptotic BCL-2, SURVIVIN and cIAP-2 genes were downregulated at Bortezomib loaded CS MNP treated cells. Immunocytochemical analyses demonstrated an increase in p53 tumor suppressor protein levels at treated cells, which supports the upregulation of PUMA and NOXA genes, while Survivin protein level did not significantly change. This study points out that the pH responsive magnetic targeting of Bortezomib is more efficacious than free drug treatment. Moreover, targeted delivery of Bortezomib would reduce the frequency of drug administration by lowering the required amount of drug dose. (C) 2014 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.