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Indocyanine green-loaded gold nanostars for sensitive SERS imaging and subcellular monitoring of photothermal therapy


We demonstrated that a typical nanothermometer was incorporated in the bovine serum albumin stabilized gold nanostar-indocyanine green (denoted as GNS-ICG-BSA) nanoprobe to realize surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) imaging–based real-time sensitive monitoring of intracellular temperature in photothermal therapy (PTT), which significantly promoted the spatial resolution compared to the infrared thermal imaging. Herein, an exogenous thermosensitive molecule ICG, acting as a tri-functional agent, was selected as the Raman reporter instead of the direct cellular biochemical changes, triggering the obtained probe unaffected by the cellular microenvironment, which can act as a monitor of PTT in various cell types. High-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) was used to investigate the thermosensitive mechanism of ICG. The actively targeted GNS-ICG-BSA nanotags to induce SERS mapping-guided in vitro PTT of U87 glioma cells has been performed; meanwhile, small temperature variations within a cell during PTT can be precisely monitored through the SERS fingerprint information, with the spatial resolution of subcellular level and a sensitivity of 0.37 oC. Thus, the integrated GNS-ICG-BSA nanotags can be treated as a theranostic probe, SERS imaging probe and intracellular thermometer. Moreover, the good biocompatibility and the low cytotoxicity of GNS-ICG-BSA nanotags, together with their superior photothermal ablation effect on U87 glioma cells have been confirmed. It suggested that the implanted nanothermometry approach would be promising for better understanding of the biological processes at subcellular level and provide new insights into the fabrication of the multifunctional nanoplatform. Furthermore, this study revealed that the SERS-based monitoring technique can offer great potential for theranostics as an emerging strategy.

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Publication details

The article was received on 19 Apr 2017, accepted on 17 May 2017 and first published on 18 May 2017

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7NR02798B
Citation: Nanoscale, 2017, Accepted Manuscript
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    Indocyanine green-loaded gold nanostars for sensitive SERS imaging and subcellular monitoring of photothermal therapy

    J. Chen, Z. Sheng, P. Li, M. Wu, N. Zhang, X. Yu, Y. Wang, D. Hu, H. Zheng and G. Wang, Nanoscale, 2017, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C7NR02798B

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