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In Situ Imaging of Cellular Reactive Oxygen Species and Caspase‑3 Activity Using a Multifunctional Theranostic Probe for Cancer Diagnosis and Therapy

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journal contribution
posted on 27.05.2021, 01:22 authored by Kan Wang, Fen Zhang, Yuanqing Wei, Wei Wei, Ling Jiang, Zewen Liu, Songqin Liu
In this work, a multifunctional theranostic nanoprobe (Au–Ag-HM) was skillfully designed for simultaneous imaging of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and caspase-3 activity. The Au–Ag-HM was fabricated by coloading of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) and hematoporphyrin monomethyl ether (HMME) to Au nanoflowers (AuNFs). When Au–Ag-HM was devoured by cancer cells, HepG2 cells were used as the model, and under laser irradiation, the photogenerated intracellular ROS by the photosensitizer HMME would induce the apoptosis of cancer cells. Meanwhile, the intracellular ROS triggered the oxidative etching of AgNPs on Au–Ag-HM, which led to a tremendous localized surface plasmon resonance response and scattering color changes in Au–Ag-HM, allowing in situ dark-field imaging of the ROS level in cancer cells. On the other hand, the ROS-induced activation of cellular caspase-3, which cleaved the C-peptide-containing caspase-3-specific recognition sequence (DEVD) and allowed HMME to release from the nanoprobe, resulted in a significant fluorescence recovery related to caspase-3 activity. Both photogenerated ROS and enhanced caspase-3 activity contributed to the synergistic effect of laser-mediated chemotherapy and photodynamic therapy. Therefore, the as-prepared theranostic probe could be used for simultaneous detection of cellular ROS and caspase-3 activity, distinguishing between tumor cells and normal cells, inducing the apoptosis of cancer cells, and providing a new method for diagnosis and therapy of cancer.