Enhancing photothermal cancer therapy by clustering gold nanoparticles into spherical polymeric nanoconstructs

Carmen Iodice, Antonio Cervadoro, Anna Lisa Palange, Jaehong Key, Santosh Aryal, Maricela R. Ramirez, Clara Mattu, Gianluca Ciardelli, Brian E. O'Neill, Paolo Decuzzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have been proposed as agents for enhancing photothermal therapy in cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Different geometrical configurations have been used, ranging from spheres to rods and more complex star shapes, to modulate optical and ablating properties. In this work, multiple, ultra-small 6 nm AuNPs are encapsulated into larger spherical polymeric nanoconstructs (SPNs), made out of a poly(lactic acid-co-glycol acid) (PLGA) core stabilized by a superficial lipid-PEG monolayer. The optical and photothermal properties of the resulting nanoconstructs (Au-SPNs) are modulated by varying the initial loading input of AuNPs, ranging between 25 and 150 μgAu. Au-SPNs exhibit a hydrodynamic diameter varying from ∼100 to 180 nm, growing with the gold content, and manifest up to 2-fold increase in thermal energy production per unit mass of gold for an initial input of 100 μgAu. Au-SPNs are stable under physiological conditions up to 7 days and have direct cytotoxic effect on tumor cells. The superior photothermal performance of Au-SPNs is assessed in vitro on monolayers of breast cancer cells (SUM-159) and tumor spheroids of glioblastoma multiforme cells (U87-MG). The encapsulation of small AuNPs into larger spherical nanoconstructs enhances photothermal ablation and could favor tumor accumulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-81
Number of pages8
JournalOptics and Lasers in Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jan 9

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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