Organic small-molecule photosensitizers are well-characterized and known for the light-responsive treatment modality including photodynamic therapy. Compared with ultraviolet−visible (UV−vis) light used in conventional photodynamic therapy with organic photosensitizers, near-infrared (NIR) light from 700 to 900 nm is less absorbed and scattered by biological tissue such as hemoglobin, lipids, and water, and thus, the use of NIR excitation can greatly increase the penetration depth and emission. Additionally, NIR light has lower energy than UV−vis that can be beneficial due to less activation of fluorophores present in tissues upon NIR irradiation. However, the low water stability, nonspecific distribution, and short circulation halflife of the organic photosensitizers limit its broad biological application. NIR responsive small-molecule fluorescent agents are the focus of extensive research for combined molecular imaging and hyperthermia. Recently a new class of NIR dye, IR-820 with excitation and emission wavelengths of 710 and 820 nm, has been developed and explored as an alternative platform to overcome some of the limitations of the most commonly used gold nanoparticles for photothermal therapy of cancer. Herein, we synthesized a core−shell biocompatible nanocarrier envelope made up of a phospholipid conjugated with poly(ethylene glycol) as a shell, while poly(lactic glycolic acid) (PLGA) was used as a core to encapsulate IR-820 dye. The IR-820-loaded nanoparticles were prepared by nanoprecipitation and characterized for their physicochemical properties and photothermal efficiency. These nanoparticles were monodispersed and highly stable in physiological pH with the hydrodynamic size of 103 ± 8 nm and polydispersity index of 0.163 ± 0.031. The IR-820-loaded nanocarrier showed excellent biocompatibility in the dark, whereas remarkable phototoxicity was observed with breast cancer cells (MCF-7) upon NIR laser excitation. Therefore, the IR-820-loaded phospholipid mimicking biodegradable lipid-polymer composite nanoparticles could have great potential for cancer theranostics.


This article is open access with a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)


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