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Sequentially Triggered Delivery System of Black Phosphorus Quantum Dots with Surface Charge-Switching Ability for Precise Tumor Radiosensitization

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posted on 08.11.2018, 00:00 authored by Leung Chan, Pan Gao, Wenhua Zhou, Chaoming Mei, Yanyu Huang, Xue-Feng Yu, Paul K. Chu, Tianfeng Chen
Cancer radiotherapy suffers from drawbacks such as radiation resistance of hypoxic cells, excessive radiation that causes damage of adjacent healthy tissues, and concomitant side effects. Hence, radiotherapy sensitizers with improved radiotherapeutic performance and requiring a relatively small radiation dose are highly desirable. In this study, a nanosystem based on poly­(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) and ultrasmall black phosphorus quantum dots (BPQDs) is designed and prepared to accomplish precise tumor radiosensitization. The PLGA nanoparticles act as carriers to package the BPQDs to avoid off-target release and rapid degradation during blood circulation. The nanosystem that targets the polypeptide peptide motif Arg-Gly-Asp-Gys actively accumulates in tumor tissues. The 2,3-dimethylmaleic anhydride shell decomposes in an acidic microenvironment, and the nanoparticles become positively charged, thereby favoring cellular uptake. Furthermore, glutathione (GSH) deoxidizes the disulfide bond of cystamine and sequentially triggers release of BPQDs, rendering tumor cells sensitive to radiotherapy. The treatment utilizing the PLGA‑SS‑D@BPQDs nanosystem and X-ray induces cell apoptosis triggered by overproduction of reactive oxygen species. In the in vivo study, the nanosystem shows excellent radiotherapy sensitization efficiency but negligible histological damage of the major organs. This study provides insights into the design and fabrication of surface-charge-switching and pH-responsive nanosystems as potent radiosensitizers to achieve excellent radiotherapy sensitization efficacy and negligible toxic side effects.

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