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A Supramolecular Strategy to Engineering a Non-photobleaching and Near-Infrared Absorbing Nano-J-Aggregate for Efficient Photothermal Therapy

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journal contribution
posted on 26.02.2021, 17:04 by Meihui Su, Qiuju Han, Xiaosa Yan, Yanan Liu, Pei Luo, Wenhao Zhai, Qiangzhe Zhang, Luyuan Li, Changhua Li
The design of organic photothermal agents (PTAs) for in vivo applications face a demanding set of performance requirements, especially intense NIR-absorptivity and sufficient photobleaching resistance. J-aggregation offers a facile way to tune the optical properties of dyes, thus providing a general design platform for organic PTAs with the desired performance. Herein, we present a supramolecular strategy to build a water-stable, nonphotobleaching, and NIR-absorbing nano-PTA (J-NP) from J-aggregation of halogenated BODIPY dyes (BDP) for efficient in vivo photothermal therapy. Multiple intermolecular halogen-bonding and π–π stacking interactions triggered the formation of BDP J-aggregate, which adsorbed amphiphilic polymer chains on the surface to provide PEGylated sheetlike nano-J-aggregate (J-NS). We serendipitously discovered that the architecture of J-NS was remodeled during a long-time ultrafiltration process, generating a discrete spherical nano-J-aggregate (J-NP) with controlled size. Compared with J-NS, the remodeled J-NP significantly improved cellular uptake efficiency. J-aggregation brought J-NP striking photothermal performance, such as strong NIR-absorptivity, high photothermal conversion efficiency up to 72.0%, and favorable nonphotobleaching ability. PEGylation and shape-remodeling imparted by the polymer coating enabled J-NP to hold biocompatibility and stability in vivo, thereby exhibiting efficient antitumor photothermal activities. This work not only presents a facile J-aggregation strategy for preparing PTAs with high photothermal performance but also establishes a supramolecular platform that enables the appealing optical functions derived from J-aggregation to be applied in vivo.