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Photocleavable Hydrogel-Coated Upconverting Nanoparticles: A Multifunctional Theranostic Platform for NIR Imaging and On-Demand Macromolecular Delivery

Jalani, Ghulam, Naccache, Rafik, Rosenzweig, Derek H., Haglund, Lisbet, Vetrone, Fiorenzo, Cerruti, Marta
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2016 v.138 no.3 pp. 1078-1083
absorption, chitosan, crosslinking, drugs, hydrogels, image analysis, irradiation, nanoparticles, serum albumin, tissue engineering, wavelengths
Lanthanide-doped upconverting nanoparticles (UCNPs) have emerged as excellent nanotransducers for converting longer wavelength near-infrared (NIR) light to shorter wavelengths spanning the ultraviolet (UV) to the visible (Vis) regions of the spectrum via a multiphoton absorption process, known as upconversion. Here, we report the development of NIR to UV–Vis–NIR UCNPs consisting of LiYF₄:Yb³⁺/Tm³⁺@SiO₂ individually coated with a 10 ± 2 nm layer of chitosan (CH) hydrogel cross-linked with a photocleavable cross-linker (PhL). We encapsulated fluorescent-bovine serum albumin (FITC-BSA) inside the gel. Under 980 nm excitation, the upconverted UV emission cleaves the PhL cross-links and instantaneously liberates the FITC-BSA under 2 cm thick tissue. The release is immediately arrested if the excitation source is switched off. The upconverted NIR light allows for the tracking of particles under the tissue. Nucleus pulposus (NP) cells cultured with UCNPs are viable both in the presence and in the absence of laser irradiation. Controlled drug delivery of large biomolecules and deep tissue imaging make this system an excellent theranostic platform for tissue engineering, biomapping, and cellular imaging applications.