Multi-stimuli-responsive theranostic nanoplatform integrating functions of both imaging and multimodal therapeutics holds great promise for improving diagnosis and therapeutic efficacy. In this study, we reported a pH, glutathione (GSH) and hyaluronidase (HAase) triple-responsive nanoplatform for HER2 and CD44 dual-targeted and fluorescence imaging-guided PDT/PTT dual-therapy against HER2-overexpressed breast cancer. The nanoplatform was fabricated by functionalizing gold nanorods (GNRs) with hyaluronic acid (HA) bearing pendant hydrazide and thiol groups via Au-S bonds, and subsequently chemically conjugating 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA), Cy7.5 and anti-HER2 antibody onto HA moiety for PDT, fluorescence imaging and active targeting, respectively. The resulting versatile nanoplatform GNR-HA-ALA/Cy7.5-HER2 had uniform sizes, favorable dispersibility, as well as pH, GSH and HAase triple-responsive drug release manner. In vitro studies demonstrated that HER2 and CD44 receptor-mediated dual-targeting strategy could significantly enhance the cellular uptake of GNR-HA-ALA/Cy7.5-HER2. Under near-infrared (NIR) irradiation, MCF-7 cells could efficiently generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) and heat, and be more efficiently killed by a combination of PDT and PTT as compared with individual therapy. Pharmacokinetic and biodistribution studies showed that the nanoplatform possessed a circulation half-life of 1.9 h and could be specifically delivered to tumor tissues with an accumulation ratio of 12.8%. Upon the fluorescence imaging-guided PDT/PTT treatments, the tumors were completely eliminated without obvious side effects. The results suggest that the GNR-HA-ALA/Cy7.5-HER2 holds great potential for breast cancer therapy. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: A combination of photodynamic therapy (PDT) and photothermal therapy (PTT) is emerging as a promising cancer treatment strategy. However, its therapeutic efficacy is compromised by the nonspecific delivery and unintended release of photo-responsive agents. Herein, we developed a multifunctional theranostic nanoplatform GNR-HA-ALA/Cy7.5-HER2 with pH, glutathione and hyaluronidase triple-responsive drug release for HER2 and CD44 dual-targeted and fluorescence imaging-guided PDT/PTT therapy against breast cancer. We demonstrated that HER2 and CD44 receptors-mediated dual-targeting strategy significantly enhanced the cellular uptake of GNR-HA-ALA/Cy7.5-HER2. We also demonstrated that the combined PDT/PTT treatment had significantly superior antitumor effect than PDT or PTT alone both in vitro and in vivo. Therefore, GNR-HA-ALA/Cy7.5-HER2 could serve as a promising nanoplatform for HER2-positive breast cancer therapy.
Keywords: Gold nanorod; Hyaluronic acid; Photodynamic and photothermal dual-therapy; Targeted delivery; Triple-responsive drug release.
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