Novel Gold Nanorods@Thiolated Pectin on the Killing of HeLa Cells by Photothermal Ablation

Pharmaceutics. 2023 Nov 2;15(11):2571. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics15112571.


Gold nanorods (AuNRs) have attracted attention in the field of biomedicine, particularly for their potential as photothermal agents capable of killing tumor cells by photothermic ablation. In this study, the synthesis of novel AuNRs stabilized with thiolated pectin (AuNR@SH-PEC) is reported. To achieve this, thiolated pectin (SH-PEC) was obtained by chemically binding cysteamine motifs to the pectin backbone. The success of the reaction was ascertained using FTIR-ATR. Subsequently, the SH-PEC was used to coat and stabilize the surface of AuNRs (AuNR@SH-PEC). In this context, different concentrations of SH-PEC (0.25, 0.50, 1.0, 2.0, 4.0, and 8.0 mg/mL) were added to 0.50 mL of AuNRs suspended in CTAB, aiming to determine the experimental conditions under which AuNR@SH-PEC maintains stability. The results show that SH-PEC effectively replaced the CTAB adsorbed on the surface of AuNRs, enhancing the stability of AuNRs without affecting their optical properties. Additionally, scanning electron and atomic force microscopy confirmed that SH-PEC is adsorbed into the surface of the AuNRs. Importantly, the dimension size (60 × 15 nm) and the aspect ratio (4:1) remained consistent with those of AuNRs stabilized with CTAB. Then, the photothermal properties of gold nanorods were evaluated by irradiating the aqueous suspension of AuNR@SH-PEC with a CW laser (808 nm, 1 W). These results showed that photothermal conversion efficiency is similar to the photothermal conversion observed for AuNR-CTAB. Lastly, the cell viability assays confirmed that the SH-PEC coating enhanced the biocompatibility of AuNR@SH-PEC. Most important, the viability cell assays subjected to laser irradiation in the presence of AuNR@SH-PEC showed a decrease in the cell viability relative to the non-irradiated cells. These results suggest that AuNRs stabilized with thiolated pectin can potentially be exploited in the implementation of photothermal therapy.

Keywords: cancer; gold nanorods; photothermal conversion; photothermal therapy; thiolated pectin.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.