Acid-decomposable, luminescent ZnO quantum dots (QDs) have been employed to seal the nanopores of mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) in order to inhibit premature drug (doxorubicin) release. After internalization into HeLa cells, the ZnO QD lids are rapidly dissolved in the acidic intracellular compartments, and as a result, the loaded drug is released into the cytosol from the MSNs. The ZnO QDs behave as a dual-purpose entity that not only acts as a lid but also has a synergistic antitumor effect on cancer cells. We anticipate that these nanoparticles may prove to be a significant step toward the development of a pH-sensitive drug delivery system that minimizes drug toxicity.
© 2011 American Chemical Society