Exclusive photothermal heat generation by a gadolinium bis(naphthalocyanine) complex and inclusion into modified high-density lipoprotein nanocarriers for therapeutic applications

ACS Nano. 2013 Oct 22;7(10):8908-16. doi: 10.1021/nn403384k. Epub 2013 Oct 2.


A hydrophobic gadolinium bis(naphthalocyanine) sandwich complex (GdSand) possessing several absorbances across visible and infrared wavelengths (up to 2500 nm) was solubilized in aqueous solution by uptake into a nascent mutant high-density lipoprotein (HDL) nanocarrier. The HDL nanocarrier was additionally functionalized with a trans-activator of transcription peptide sequence to promote efficient cell penetration of the drug delivery system (cpHDL). The dye-loaded nanocarrier (GdSand@cpHDL) exhibited photothermal heat generation properties upon irradiation with near-infrared (NIR) laser light, with controllable heat generation abilities as a function of the incident laser light power. Comparison of the photothermal behavior of the dyes GdSand and the well-explored molecular photothermal agent indocyanine green (ICG) in the cpHDL nanocarrier (i.e., ICG@cpHDL) revealed two significant advantages of GdSand@cpHDL: (1) the ability to maintain elevated temperatures upon light absorption for extended periods of time, with a reduced degree of self-destruction of the dye, and (2) exclusive photothermal heat generation with no detectable singlet oxygen production leading to improved integrity of the cpHDL nanocarrier after irradiation. Finally, GdSand@cpHDL was successfully subjected to an in vitro study against NCI-H460 human lung cancer cells, demonstrating the proof-of-principle utility of lanthanide sandwich complexes in photothermal therapeutic applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Gadolinium / chemistry*
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / chemistry*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Nanostructures*
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared


  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Gadolinium