Enhanced photodynamic therapy and fluorescence imaging using gold nanorods for porphyrin delivery in a novel in vitro squamous cell carcinoma 3D model†
Nanocomposites of gold nanorods (Au NRs) with the cationic porphyrin TMPyP (5,10,15,20-tetrakis(1- methyl 4-pyridinio)porphyrin tetra(p-toluenesulfonate)) were investigated as a nanocarrier system for photodynamic therapy (PDT) and fluorescence imaging. To confer biocompatibility and facilitate the cellular uptake, the NRs were encapsulated with polyacrylic acid (PAA) and efficiently loaded with the cationic porphyrin by electrostatic interaction. The nanocomposites were tested with and without light exposure following incubation in 2D monolayer cultures and a 3D compressed collagen construct of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The results showed that Au NRs enhance the absorption and emission intensity of TMPyP and improve its photodynamic efficiency and fluorescence imaging capability in both 2D cultures and 3D cancer constructs. Au NRs are promising theranostic agents for delivery of photosensitisers for HNSCC treatment and imaging.