Free and Poly-Methyl-Methacrylate-Bounded BODIPYs: Photodynamic and Antimigratory Effects in 2D and 3D Cancer Models

Marco Ballestri, Emanuela Marras, Enrico Caruso, Fabrizio Bolognese, Miryam Chiara Malacarne, Elisa Martella, Matilde Tubertini, Marzia Bruna Gariboldi, Greta Varchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Several limitations, including dark toxicity, reduced tumor tissue selectivity, low photostability and poor biocompatibility hamper the clinical use of Photodynamic therapy (PDT) in cancer treatment. To overcome these limitations, new PSs have been synthetized, and often combined with drug delivery systems, to improve selectivity and reduce toxicity. In this context, BODIPYs (4,4-difluoro-4-bora-3a,4a-diaza-s-indacene) have recently emerged as promising and easy-to-handle scaffolds for the preparation of effective PDT antitumor agents. In this study, the anticancer photodynamic effect of newly prepared negatively charged polymethyl methacrylate (nPMMA)-bounded BODIPYs (3@nPMMA and 6@nPMMA) was evaluated on a panel of 2D- and 3D-cultured cancer cell lines and compared with free BODIPYs. In particular, the effect on cell viability was evaluated, along with their ability to accumulate into the cells, induce apoptotic and/or necrotic cell death, and inhibit cellular migration. Our results indicated that 3@nPMMA and 6@nPMMA reduce cancer cell viability in 3D models of HC116 and MCF7 cells more effectively than the corresponding free compounds. Importantly, we demonstrated that MDA-MB231 and SKOV3 cell migration ability was significantly impaired by the PDT treatment mediated by 3@nPMMA and 6@nPMMA nanoparticles, likely indicating the capability of this approach to reduce metastatic tumor potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number92
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 23 2022


  • antitumor efficacy
  • drug delivery
  • electrostatic loading
  • inhibition of cells migration
  • photodynamic therapy
  • poly-methyl methacrylate nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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