Mapping intracellular thermal response of cancer cells to magnetic hyperthermia treatment†
Temperature is a key parameter for optimal cellular function and growth. Temperature perturbation may directly lead to cell death. This can be used in cancer therapies to kill cells in tumors, a therapeutic approach called hyperthermia. To avoid overheating of tumors that may damage healthy tissues, a knowledge of the intracellular temperature reached during the hyperthermia treatment of cancer cells is relevant. Recently, several luminescent intracellular nanothermometers have been proposed; however an application to sense temperature during a hyperthermia treatment is lacking. Here we present a technique to measure intracellular temperature changes in in vitro cancer cell models. For this purpose, we study for the first time the temperature dependence of the green fluorescent protein (GFP)'s fluorescence lifetime parameter. We find the fluorescence lifetime of GFP can be used for nanothermosensing. We use GFP in a bound form to actin filaments as an intracellular thermal reporter. Furthermore, we assess intracellular temperature during in vitro magnetothermal therapy on live HeLa cells incubated with polyacrylic acid-coated iron oxide nanoparticles. Compared to other thermosensitive materials and formulations reported so far, the GFP nanothermosensor is easily expressed via transfection and various GFP variants are commercially available. We foresee that the nanothermometer developed might find widespread applications in cancer therapy research and development.