Theranostics 2022; 12(12):5272-5298. doi:10.7150/thno.73566 This issue


Progress in advanced nanotherapeutics for enhanced photodynamic immunotherapy of tumor

Xiao Wei1✉#, Mingzhu Song1#, Guirong Jiang1#, Min Liang4, Chunlan Chen1, Zhiyong Yang3✉, Liang Zou2✉

1. School of Preclinical Medicine, Chengdu University, Chengdu 610106, P. R. China.
2. School of Food and Bioengineering, Chengdu University, Chengdu 610106, P. R. China.
3. Key Disciplines of Clinical Pharmacy, Affiliated Hospital and Clinical Medical College of Chengdu University, Chengdu 610081, P. R. China.
4. Department of Thoracic and Cardiac Surgery, Affiliated Hospital of Chengdu University, Chengdu 610081, P. R. China.
#These authors contributed equally to this work.

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Wei X, Song M, Jiang G, Liang M, Chen C, Yang Z, Zou L. Progress in advanced nanotherapeutics for enhanced photodynamic immunotherapy of tumor. Theranostics 2022; 12(12):5272-5298. doi:10.7150/thno.73566. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Clinically, the conventional treatments of cancer are still often accompanied by tumor recurrence, metastasis and other poor prognosis. Nowadays, more attention has been paid to photodynamic therapy (PDT), which is regarded as an adjuvant antineoplastic strategy with superiorities in great spatiotemporal selectivity and minimal invasiveness. In addition to eliminating tumor cells via reactive oxygen species (ROS), more meaningfully, this phototherapy can trigger immunogenic cell death (ICD) that plays a vital role in photodynamic immunotherapy (PDIT). ICD-based PDIT holds some immunotherapeutic potential due to further enhanced antitumor efficacy by utilizing various combined therapies to increase ICD levels. To help the PDIT-related drugs improve pharmacokinetic properties, bioavailability and system toxicity, multifunctional nanocarriers can be reasonably designed for enhanced PDIT. In further consideration of severe hypoxia, low immunity and immune checkpoints in tumor microenvironment (TME), advanced nanotherapeutics-mediated PDIT has been extensively studied for boosting antitumor immunity by oxygen-augment, ICD-boosting, adjuvant stimulation and combined checkpoints blockade. Herein, this review will summarize different categories of nanocarriers consisting of their material type, targeting and stimuli-responsiveness. Moreover, we will focus on the latest progress of various strategies to enhance the antitumor immune effect for PDIT and elucidate their corresponding immune-activation mechanisms. Nevertheless, there are several thorny challenges in PDIT, including limited light penetration, tumor hypoxia, immune escape and the development of novel small-molecule compounds that replace immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) for easy integration into nanosystems. It is hoped that these issues raised will be helpful to the preclinical study of nanotherapeutics-based PDIT, thus accelerating the transformation of PDIT to clinical practice.

Keywords: photodynamic therapy, immunogenic cell death, nanotherapeutics, tumor immunotherapy