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J Am Chem Soc. 2013 Dec 18;135(50):18850-8. doi: 10.1021/ja408286k. Epub 2013 Dec 9.

Cell-specific and pH-activatable rubyrin-loaded nanoparticles for highly selective near-infrared photodynamic therapy against cancer.

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State Key Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry for Life Science and ‡State Key Laboratory of Coordination Chemistry, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Nanjing University , Nanjing 210093, P.R. China.


Spatiotemporal control of singlet oxygen ((1)O2) release is a major challenge for photodynamic therapy (PDT) against cancer with high therapeutic efficacy and minimum side effects. Here a selenium-rubyrin (NMe2Se4N2)-loaded nanoparticle functionalized with folate (FA) was designed and synthesized as an acidic pH-activatable targeted photosensitizer. The nanoparticles could specifically recognize cancer cells via the FA-FA receptor binding and were selectively taken up by cancer cells via receptor-mediated endocytosis to enter lysosomes, in which NMe2Se4N2 was activated to produce (1)O2. The pH-controllable release of (1)O2 specially damaged the lysosomes and thus killed cancer cells in a lysosome-associated pathway. The introduction of selenium into the rubyrin core enhanced the (1)O2 generation efficiency due to the heavy atom effect, and the substitution of dimethylaminophenyl moiety at meso-position led to the pH-controllable activation of NMe2Se4N2. Under near-infrared (NIR) irradiation, NMe2Se4N2 possessed high singlet oxygen quantum yield (ΦΔ) at an acidic pH (ΦΔ = 0.69 at pH 5.0 at 635 nm) and could be deactivated at physiological pH (ΦΔ = 0.06 at pH 7.4 at 635 nm). The subcellular location-confined pH-activatable photosensitization at NIR region and the cancer cell-targeting feature led to excellent capability to selectively kill cancer cells and prevent the damage to normal cells, which greatly lowered the side effects. Through intravenous injection of FA-NMe2Se4N2 nanoparticles in tumor-bearing mice, tumor elimination was observed after NIR irradiation. This work presents a new paradigm for specific PDT against cancer and provides a new avenue for preparation of highly efficient photosensitizers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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