Tumor-triggered drug release from calcium carbonate-encapsulated gold nanostars for near-infrared photodynamic/photothermal combination antitumor therapy

Yanlei Liu, Xiao Zhi, Meng Yang, Jingpu Zhang, Lingnan Lin, Xin Zhao, Wenxiu Hou, Chunlei Zhang, Qian Zhang, Fei Pan, Gabriel Alfranca, Yuming Yang, Jesús M. de la Fuente, Jian Ni, Daxiang Cui

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Different stimulus including pH, light and temperature have been used for controlled drug release to prevent drug inactivation and minimize side-effects. Herein a novel nano-platform (GNS at CaCO3/ICG) consisting of calcium carbonate-encapsulated gold nanostars loaded with ICG was established to couple the photothermal properties of gold nanostars (GNSs) and the photodynamic properties of indocyanine green (ICG) in the photodynamic/photothermal combination therapy (PDT/PTT). In this study, the calcium carbonate worked not only a drug keeper to entrap ICG on the surface of GNSsin the form of a stable aggregate which was protected from blood clearance, but also as the a pH-responder to achieve highly effective tumor-triggered drug release locally. The application of GNS at CaCO3/ICG for in vitro and in vivo therapy achieved the combined antitumor effects upon the NIR irradiation, which was superior to the single PDT or PTT. Meanwhile, the distinct pH-triggered drug release performance of GNS at CaCO3/ICG implemented the tumor-targeted NIR fluorescence imaging. In addition, we monitored the bio-distribution and excretion pathway of GNS at CaCO3/ICG based on the NIR fluorescence from ICG and two-photon fluorescence and photoacoustic signal from GNSs, and the results proved that GNS at CaCO3/ICG had a great ability for tumor-specific and tumor-triggered drug release. We therefore conclude that the GNS at CaCO3/ICG holds great promise for clinical applications in anti-tumor therapy with tumor imaging or drug tracing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1650-1662
Number of pages13
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Calcium carbonate; Gold nanostars; Tumor-triggered; Combination antitumor therapy.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)

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