pH-Triggered controlled drug release from mesoporous silica nanoparticles via intracelluar dissolution of ZnO nanolids

J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Jun 15;133(23):8778-81. doi: 10.1021/ja200328s. Epub 2011 May 23.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Survival
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Doxorubicin / chemistry
  • Doxorubicin / metabolism
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacology
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • HeLa Cells / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Intracellular Space / drug effects
  • Intracellular Space / metabolism*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Porosity
  • Quantum Dots*
  • Silicon Dioxide / chemistry*
  • Zinc Oxide / chemistry*


  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Drug Carriers
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Doxorubicin
  • Zinc Oxide