Theranostics 2019; 9(10):2791-2799. doi:10.7150/thno.34740 This issue

Research Paper

Core-shell metal-organic frameworks with fluorescence switch to trigger an enhanced photodynamic therapy

Yuan Liu1, Christina S. Gong1, Lisen Lin1, Zijian Zhou1, Yijing Liu1, Zhen Yang1, Zheyu Shen1, Guocan Yu1, Zhantong Wang1, Sheng Wang1, Ying Ma1, Wenpei Fan1, Liangcan He1, Gang Niu1, Yunlu Dai2✉, Xiaoyuan Chen1✉

1. Laboratory of Molecular Imaging and Nanomedicine, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, United States
2. Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Macau, Macau, SAR 999078, P. R. China.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Liu Y, Gong CS, Lin L, Zhou Z, Liu Y, Yang Z, Shen Z, Yu G, Wang Z, Wang S, Ma Y, Fan W, He L, Niu G, Dai Y, Chen X. Core-shell metal-organic frameworks with fluorescence switch to trigger an enhanced photodynamic therapy. Theranostics 2019; 9(10):2791-2799. doi:10.7150/thno.34740. Available from

File import instruction


Graphic abstract

The design of hybrid metal-organic framework (MOF) nanomaterials by integrating inorganic nanoparticle into MOF (NP@MOF) has demonstrated outstanding potential for obtaining enhanced, collective, and extended novel physiochemical properties. However, the reverse structure of MOF-integrated inorganic nanoparticle (MOF@NP) with multifunction has rarely been reported.

Methods: We developed a facile in-situ growth method to integrate MOF nanoparticle into inorganic nanomaterial and designed a fluorescence switch to trigger enhanced photodynamic therapy. The influence of “switch” on the photodynamic activity was studied in vitro. The in vivo mice with tumor model was applied to evaluate the “switch”-triggered enhanced photodynamic therapy efficacy.

Results: A core-satellites structure with fluorescence off and on function was obtained when growing MnO2 on the surface of fluorescent zeolitic imidazolate framework (ZIF-8) nanoparticles. Furthermore, A core-shell structure with photodynamic activity off and on function was achieved by growing MnO2 on the surface of porphyrinic ZrMOF nanoparticles (ZrMOF@MnO2). Both the fluorescence and photodynamic activities can be turned off by MnO2 and turned on by GSH. The GSH-responsive activation of photodynamic activity of ZrMOF@MnO2 significantly depleted the intracellular GSH via a MnO2 reduction reaction, thus triggering an enhanced photodynamic therapy efficacy. Finally, the GSH-reduced Mn2+ provided a platform for magnetic resonance imaging-guided tumor therapy.

Conclusion: This work highlights the impact of inorganic nanomaterial on the MOF properties and provides insight to the rational design of multifunctional MOF-inorganic nanomaterial complexes.

Keywords: Metal-organic frameworks, Core-shell structure, Fluorescence switch, Photodynamic therapy