Multifunctional hyaluronic acid-derived carbon dots for self-targeted imaging-guided photodynamic therapy†
It is of vital importance to engineer the surface structures of carbon dots (CDs) to satisfy their practical biomedical applications, including imaging and treatment. In this work, one type of hyaluronic acid-derived CD (HA-CD) was synthesized via a facile one-step hydrothermal method using cancer cell-targeted HA as a precursor. The as-prepared HA-CDs were targeted actively toward CD44 receptor-overexpressing cancer cells because a partial HA structure remained on the HA-CD surface. Beyond this, HA-CDs can act as a novel photosensitizer, because they can generate O2˙− under 650 nm laser irradiation, and they also exhibit excellent blue photoluminescence emission. The in vitro results revealed that HA-CDs imaged selectively CD44-overexpressing cancer cells and inhibited their growth under 650 nm laser irradiation. Thus, HA-CDs can serve as a promising self-targeted imaging-guided photodynamic therapy (PDT) agent for cancer. The present research provides a promising new method to simply construct multifunctional CD-based targeted phototheranostic systems.