Ceramic-based nanoparticles entrapping water-insoluble photosensitizing anticancer drugs: a novel drug-carrier system for photodynamic therapy

J Am Chem Soc. 2003 Jul 2;125(26):7860-5. doi: 10.1021/ja0343095.


A novel nanoparticle-based drug carrier for photodynamic therapy is reported which can provide stable aqueous dispersion of hydrophobic photosensitizers, yet preserve the key step of photogeneration of singlet oxygen, necessary for photodynamic action. A multidisciplinary approach is utilized which involves (i) nanochemistry in micellar cavity to produce these carriers, (ii) spectroscopy to confirm singlet oxygen production, and (iii) in vitro studies using tumor cells to investigate drug-carrier uptake and destruction of cancer cells by photodynamic action. Ultrafine organically modified silica-based nanoparticles (diameter approximately 30 nm), entrapping water-insoluble photosensitizing anticancer drug 2-devinyl-2-(1-hexyloxyethyl) pyropheophorbide, have been synthesized in the nonpolar core of micelles by hydrolysis of triethoxyvinylsilane. The resulting drug-doped nanoparticles are spherical, highly monodispersed, and stable in aqueous system. The entrapped drug is more fluorescent in aqueous medium than the free drug, permitting use of fluorescence bioimaging studies. Irradiation of the photosensitizing drug entrapped in nanoparticles with light of suitable wavelength results in efficient generation of singlet oxygen, which is made possible by the inherent porosity of the nanoparticles. In vitro studies have demonstrated the active uptake of drug-doped nanoparticles into the cytosol of tumor cells. Significant damage to such impregnated tumor cells was observed upon irradiation with light of wavelength 650 nm. Thus, the potential of using ceramic-based nanoparticles as drug carriers for photodynamic therapy has been demonstrated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry*
  • Ceramics
  • Chlorophyll / administration & dosage
  • Chlorophyll / analogs & derivatives*
  • Chlorophyll / chemistry*
  • Drug Carriers / chemical synthesis*
  • Hydrolysis
  • Micelles
  • Nanotechnology
  • Particle Size
  • Photochemotherapy / methods
  • Photosensitizing Agents / administration & dosage
  • Photosensitizing Agents / chemistry*
  • Silanes / chemistry
  • Solubility
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Water / chemistry


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Drug Carriers
  • Micelles
  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • Silanes
  • Water
  • Chlorophyll
  • 2-(1-hexyloxyethyl)-2-devinyl pyropheophorbide-a