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Carbon nanodots for on demand chemophotothermal therapy combination to elicit necroptosis: Overcoming apoptosis resistance in breast cancer cell lines

  • Authors: Nicosia A.; Cavallaro G.; Costa S.; Utzeri M.A.; Cuttitta A.; Giammona G.; Mauro N.
  • Publication year: 2020
  • Type: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Background: Engineered luminescent carbon nanodots (CDs) are appealing nanomaterials for cancer image-guided photothermal therapy combining near infrared (NIR)–triggered hyperthermia, imaging, and drug delivery in a single platform for efficient killing of cancer cells. This approach would allow eliciting synergistic regulated cell death (RCD) routes such as necroptosis, targeting breast cancer cells refractory to apoptosis, thus overcoming drug resistance. Methods: We report the preparation of CDs bearing biotin as a targeting agent (CDs-PEG-BT), which are able to load high amounts of irinotecan (23.7%) to be released in a pulsed on-demand fashion. CDs-PEG-BT have narrow size distribution, stable red luminescence, and high photothermal conversion in the NIR region, allowing imaging of MDA-MB231 and MCF-7 cancer cells and killing them by photothermal and chemotherapeutic insults. Results: Cellular uptake, viability profiles, and RCD gene expression analyses provided insights about the observed biocompatibility of CDs-PEG-BT, indicating that necroptosis can be induced on-demand after the photothermal activation. Besides, photothermal activation of drug-loaded CDs-PEG-BT implies both necroptosis and apoptosis by the TNFα and RIPK1 pathway. Conclusions: The controlled activation of necroptosis and apoptosis by combining phototherapy and on-demand release of irinotecan is the hallmark of efficient anticancer response in refractory breast cancer cell lines in view of precision medicine applications.