Facile fabrication of highly photothermal-effective albumin-assisted gold nanoclusters for treating breast cancer

Sungin Lee, Changkyu Lee, Sanghyun Park, Kyungseop Lim, Sung Soo Kim, Jong Oh Kim, Eun Seong Lee, Kyung Taek Oh, Han Gon Choi, Yu Seok Youn
International Journal of Pharmaceutics2018
Gold nanoclusters (AuNCs) have been considered to be a promising candidate for hyperthermia-based anticancer therapy. Herein, we introduce albumin-assisted AuNCs composed of small gold nanoparticles (AuNPs, <6 nm) assembled with strands of polyallylamine (PAH), which exhibited strong surface plasmon resonance upon near-infrared (NIR, ∼808 nm) laser irradiation and good in vivo stability. Our albumin-assisted PAH-AuNCs (BSA/PAH-AuNCs) were facilely fabricated as a top-down process by a simple ultrasonication after the preparation of large nano-aggregates of PAH-AuNPs. Albumin played a critical role as a stabilizer and surfactant in making loosely associated large aggregates and thereby producing small gold nanoclusters (∼60 nm) of slightly negative charge upon ultrasonication. The prepared BSA/PAH-AuNCs displayed excellent hyperthermal effects (∼60 °C) in response to ∼808-nm NIR laser irradiation in a 4T1 cell system in vitro and in 4T1 cell tumor xenograft mice in vivo, indicating their remarkable potential to suppress breast cancer growth, without almost no significant toxicity in histology. Consequently, our gold nanoclusters should be considered as a promising photothermal agent that are easy to manufacture and exhibit marked anticancer effects in terms of tumor ablation.

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