Cyanine-Curcumin Assembling Nanoparticles for Near-Infrared Imaging and Photothermal Therapy

Near-infrared (NIR) imaging and photothermal therapy (PTT) based on the multifunctional cyanine dyes has shown great promise for cancer therapy. However, most of the PTT agents are often limited by low drug loading, short circulation time, and low biocompatibility. Herein, we developed cyanine-curcumin assembling nanoparticles (CCNPs) via a single-step reprecipitation method. IR-780-C4 (Cyc4) was employed as a photothermal and NIR imaging agent. Self-assembly of Cyc4 and curcumin in aqueous solution could be performed in the absence of surfactants or adjuvants, which is a simple and efficient way to fabricate nanomedicine with high drug loading. Formed CCNPs showed monodispersity, good stability in physiological conditions, and lower cytotoxicity. Moreover, CCNPs possess the high loading (70%) of cyanine dyes and a higher photothermal conversion efficacy than free Cyc4, which contribute to a decrease in the application dosage of cyanine dyes in cancer therapy. Importantly, CCNPs exhibited excellent NIR imaging capacity and photothermal tumor ablation under laser irradiation in vitro and in vivo. This work highlights the potential of using self-assembling of drug molecules to develop functional nanoparticles for drug delivery and cancer therapy.