A pre-protective strategy for precise tumor targeting and efficient photodynamic therapy with a switchable DNA/upconversion nanocomposite†
Tumor-specific targeting based on folic acid (FA) is one of the most common and significant approaches in cancer therapy. However, the expression of folate receptors (FRs) in normal tissues will lead to unexpected targeting and unsatisfactory therapeutic effect. To address this issue, we develop a pre-protective strategy for precise tumor targeting and efficient photodynamic therapy (PDT) using a switchable DNA/upconversion nanocomposite, which can be triggered in the acidic tumor microenvironment. The DNA/upconversion nanocomposite is composed of polyacrylic acid (PAA) coated upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs), the surface of which is modified using FA and chlorin e6 (Ce6) functionalized DNA sequences with different lengths. Initially, FA on the shorter DNA was protected by a longer DNA to prevent the bonding to FRs on normal cells. Once reaching the acidic tumor microenvironment, C base-rich longer DNA forms a C-quadruplex, resulting in the exposure of the FA groups and the bonding of FA and FRs on cancer cell membranes to achieve precise targeting. Simultaneously, the photosensitizer chlorin e6 (Ce6) gets close to the surface of UCNPs, enabling the excitation of Ce6 to generate singlet oxygen (1O2) under near infrared light via Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET). In vivo experiments indicated that higher tumor targeting efficiency was achieved and the tumor growth was greatly inhibited through the pre-protective strategy.
- This article is part of the themed collection: In celebration of Chinese New Year