Graphitic-phase C3N4 nanosheets as efficient photosensitizers and pH-responsive drug nanocarriers for cancer imaging and therapy†
Graphitic-phase carbon nitride (g-C3N4) nanosheets, the newly emerging two-dimensional (2D) layered nanomaterials, have been demonstrated to be promising bioimaging agents due to their high photoluminescence (PL) quantum yields, good biocompatibility and low toxicity. However, the therapeutic applications of g-C3N4 nanosheets have not been explored until now. In this study, we have proven for the first time that g-C3N4 nanosheets can be used as efficient photosensitizers for photodynamic tumor therapy and as pH-responsive nanocarriers for drug delivery. On one hand, as photosensitizers, g-C3N4 nanosheets are able to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) and kill cancer cells efficiently under low-intensity light irradiation (20 mW cm−2). On the other hand, as nanocarriers, g-C3N4 nanosheets possess an ultrahigh drug-loading capacity owing to their high surface-to-volume ratio. More importantly, g-C3N4 nanosheets loaded with the anticancer drug doxorubicin (DOX) exhibit a pH-responsive release property which is beneficial for the delivery of DOX into cancer cells for chemotherapy. Furthermore, due to their high PL quantum yields, the fluorescent g-C3N4 nanosheets can enable visualization of the delivery. These findings demonstrated the potential of g-C3N4 nanosheets as low-toxic and biocompatible photosensitizers and pH-responsive drug nanocarriers for biomedical applications.
- This article is part of the themed collections: JMC B Top Picks web collection: Seeing the unseen: Advances in bioimaging and biosensors and JMC B Top Picks collection: Recent advances in drug delivery