Nanographene oxide (NGO) with a non-sheddable poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) coating has been used for chemo-photothermal therapy. However, the drug release of PEGylated NGO (NGO-PEG) with an amine bond is adversely affected by the diffusion barrier effect of PEG shells. Here, we developed a simple new method for the preparation of biodegradable PEGylated NGO conjugates (NGO-SS-PEG) with cleavable disulfide bonds for rapid drug release and more efficiently chemo-photothermal therapy. The glutathione (GSH)-induced and photothermal-mediated intracellular release of doxorubicin (DOX) from NGO-SS-PEG was studied in A549 cells using confocal laser scanning microscopy and flow cytometry analysis. In vivo cytotoxicity experiments were performed on chemo-photothermal therapy. Furthermore, we presented a comparative study of intracellular drug release and biological efficacy between NGO-SS-PEG/DOX and NGO-PEG/DOX. The results demonstrated that the rapid drug release from the NGO-SS-PEG conjugates with sheddable PEG was triggered upon the stimulus of high GSH levels inside A549 cells. Interesting, the DOX release mediated by the photothermal effect from the NGO-SS-PEG conjugates was found to be more obvious than that for NGO-PEG. Additionally, NGO-SS-PEG showed a higher efficacy than NGO-PEG for anti-tumor therapy compared with NGO-PEG. Thus, NGO-SS-PEG can improve therapeutic efficacy and is an attractive drug nanocarrier.
Keywords: Chemo-photothermal therapy; Disulfide bonds; Glutathione (GSH); Graphene oxide; Sheddable poly(ethylene glycol).
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