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Hemoglobin as a Smart pH-Sensitive Nanocarrier To Achieve Aggregation Enhanced Tumor Retention

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journal contribution
posted on 02.03.2018, 00:00 by Huan Li, Yangjun Chen, Zuhong Li, Xu Li, Qiao Jin, Jian Ji
Natural proteins have been greatly explored to address unmet medical needs. However, few work has treated proteins as natural pH-sensitive nanoplatforms that make use of the inherent pH gradient of pathogenic sites. Here, hemoglobin is employed as a smart pH-sensitive nanocarrier for near-infrared dye IR780, which disperses well at normal tissue pH and exhibits aggregation at tumor acidic milieu. The pH-sensitive hemoglobin loaded with IR780 shows higher uptake by cancer cells at tumor acidic pH 6.5 than normal tissue pH 7.4. In vivo and ex vivo studies reveal that the hemoglobin nanocarrier exhibits distinct retention kinetics with remarkably prolonged residence time in tumor. Hemoglobin is then proved to be a potent pH-sensitive nanocarrier for cancer diagnosis and treatment.