Red-emitting upconverting nanoparticles for photodynamic therapy in cancer cells under near-infrared excitation

Gan Tian, Wenlu Ren, Liang Yan, Shan Jian, Zhanjun Gu, Liangjun Zhou, Shan Jin, Wenyan Yin, Shoujian Li, Yuliang Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations


Upconverting nanoparticles (UCNPs) have attracted considerable attention as potential photosensitizer carriers for photodynamic therapy (PDT) in deep tissues. In this work, a new and efficient NIR photosensitizing nanoplatform for PDT based on red-emitting UCNPs is designed. The red emission band matches well with the efficient absorption bands of the widely used commercially available photosensitizers (Ps), benefiting the fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) from UCNPs to the attached photosensitizers and thus efficiently activating them to generate cytotoxic singlet oxygen. Three commonly used photosensitizers, including chlorine e6 (Ce6), zinc phthalocyanine (ZnPc) and methylene blue (MB), are loaded onto the alpha-cyclodextrin-modified UCNPs to form Ps@UCNPs complexes that efficiently produce singlet oxygen to kill cancer cells under 980 nm near-infrared excitation. Moreover, two different kinds of drugs are co-loaded onto these nanoparticles: chemotherapy drug doxorubicin and PDT agent Ce6. The combinational therapy based on doxorubicin (DOX)-induced chemotherapy and Ce6-triggered PDT exhibits higher therapeutic efficacy relative to the individual means for cancer therapy in vitro.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1928-1938
Number of pages11
JournalSmall (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany)
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 10 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)


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