In situ hydrogen nanogenerator for bimodal imaging guided synergistic photothermal/hydrogen therapies†
Multifunctional nanoagents integrating multiple therapeutic and imaging functions hold promise in the field of non-invasive and precise tumor therapies. However, the complex preparation process and uncertain drug metabolism of nanoagents loaded with various therapeutic agents or imaging agents greatly hinder its clinical applications. Developing simple and effective nanoagents that integrate multiple therapeutic and imaging functions remain a huge challenge. Therefore, a novel strategy based on in situ hydrogen release is proposed in this work: aminoborane (AB) was loaded onto mesoporous polydopamine nanoparticles (MPDA NPs) as a prodrug for hydrogen production, and then, PEG was modified on the surface of nanoparticles (represented as AB@MPDA-PEG). MPDA NPs not only act as photothermal agents (PTA) with high photothermal conversion efficiency (808 nm, η = 38.72%) but also as the carriers of AB accumulated in the tumor through enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect. H2 gas generated by AB in the weak acid conditions of the tumor microenvironment (TME) not only was used to treat tumors via a combination of hydrogen and photothermal therapies but also serves as a US and CT contrast agent, providing accurate guidance for tumor treatment. Finally, in vivo and in vitro investigation suggest that the designed multifunctional nanosystem not only showed excellent properties such as high hydrogen-loading capacity, long-lasting sustained hydrogen release ability and excellent biocompatibility but also achieve selective PTT/hydrogen therapies and US/CT bimodal imaging functions, which can effectively guide antitumor therapies. The proposed hydrogen gas-based strategy for combination therapies and bimodal imaging integration holds promise as an efficient and safe tumor treatment for future clinical translation.