Theranostics 2015; 5(4):345-356. doi:10.7150/thno.10731

Research Paper

Combined Cancer Photothermal-Chemotherapy Based on Doxorubicin/Gold Nanorod-Loaded Polymersomes

JinFeng Liao1, WenTing Li1, JinRong Peng1, Qian Yang1, He Li2, YuQuan Wei1, XiaoNing Zhang3, ZhiYong Qian1,✉

1. State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy/Collaborative Innovation Center for Biotherapy, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, 610041, P.R. China
2. School of Medical and Life Sciences, University of Jinan, Jinan 250022, PR China
3. School of Medicine, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084, China


Gold nanorods (GNRs) are well known in photothermal therapy based on near-infrared (NIR) laser absorption of the longitudinal plasmon band. Herein, we developed an effective stimulus system -- GNRs and doxorubicin co-loaded polymersomes (P-GNRs-DOX) -- to facilitate co-therapy of photothermal and chemotherapy. DOX can be triggered to release once the polymersomes are corrupted under local hyperthermic condition of GNRs induced by NIR laser irradiation. Also, the cytotoxicity of GNRs caused by the residual cetyltrimethylacmmonium bromide (CTAB) was reduced by shielding the polymersomes. The GNRs-loaded polymersomes (P-GNRs) can be efficiently taken up by the tumor cells. The distribution of the nanomaterial was imaged by IR-820 and quantitatively analyzed by ICP-AES. We studied the ablation of tumor cells in vitro and in vivo, and found that co-therapy offers significantly improved therapeutic efficacy (tumors were eliminated without regrowth.) compared with chemotherapy or photothermal therapy alone. By TUNEL immunofluorescent staining of tumors after NIR laser irradiation, we found that the co-therapy showed more apoptotic tumor cells than the other groups. Furthermore, the toxicity study by pathologic examination of the heart tissues demonstrated a lower systematic toxicity of P-GNRs-DOX than free DOX. Thus, the chemo-photothermal treatment based on polymersomes loaded with DOX and GNRs is a useful strategy for maximizing the therapeutic efficacy and minimizing the dosage-related side effects in the treatment of solid tumors.

Keywords: polymersomes, gold nanorod, NIR, photothermal therapy, chemotherapy.

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How to cite this article:
Liao J, Li W, Peng J, Yang Q, Li H, Wei Y, Zhang X, Qian Z. Combined Cancer Photothermal-Chemotherapy Based on Doxorubicin/Gold Nanorod-Loaded Polymersomes. Theranostics 2015; 5(4):345-356. doi:10.7150/thno.10731. Available from