Keratin nanoparticles co-delivering Docetaxel and Chlorin e6 promote synergic interaction between chemo- and photo-dynamic therapies

Elisa Gaio, Andrea Guerrini, Marco Ballestri, Greta Varchi, Claudia Ferroni, Elisa Martella, Marta Columbaro, Francesca Moret, Elena Reddi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The combination of chemotherapy and photodynamic therapy (PDT) is considered a valuable strategy for increasing therapeutic response in cancer treatment, and the re-formulation of pharmaceuticals in biocompatible nanoparticles (NPs) is particularly appealing for the possibility of co-loading drugs exerting cytotoxicity by different mechanisms, with the aim to produce synergic effects. We report the in-water synthesis of a novel keratin-based nanoformulation for the co-delivery of the antimitotic Docetaxel (DTX) and the photosensitizer Chlorin e6 (Ce6). The drug-induced aggregation method allowed the formation of monodisperse NPs (DTX/Ce6-KNPs) with an average diameter of 133 nm and loaded with a drug ratio of 1:1.8 of Ce6 vs DTX. The efficacy of DTX/Ce6-KNPs was investigated in vitro in monolayers and spheroids of DTX-sensitive HeLa (HeLa-P) and DTX-resistant HeLa (HeLa-R) cells. In monolayers, the cytotoxic effects of DTX/Ce6-KNPs toward HeLa-P cells were comparable to those induced by free DTX + Ce6, while in HeLa-R cells the drug co-loading in KNPs produced synergic interaction between chemotherapy and PDT. Moreover, as respect to monotherapies, DTX/Ce6-KNPs induced stronger cytotoxicity to both HeLa-P and HeLa-R multicellular spheroids and reduced their volumes up to 50%. Overall, the results suggest that KNPs are very promising systems for the co-delivery of chemotherapeutics and PSs, favoring synergic interactions between PDT and chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111598
JournalJournal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Chlorin e6
  • Combination therapy
  • Docetaxel
  • Keratin nanoparticle
  • Synergism
  • Tumor spheroid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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