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Gated Mesoporous Silica Nanocarriers for Hypoxia-Responsive Cargo Release

Yan, Qi, Guo, Xuliang, Huang, Xiaoli, Meng, Xuan, Liu, Fang, Dai, Peipei, Wang, Zheng, Zhao, Yanjun
ACS applied materials & interfaces 2019 v.11 no.27 pp. 24377-24385
breast neoplasms, chlorins, coatings, coumarin, dithionite, energy transfer, fluorescence, hypoxia, models, moieties, nanocarriers, neoplasm cells, normoxia, oxygen, photosensitizing agents, polymers, porous media, reducing agents, rhodamines, silica, sodium, surface area, toxicity
Mesoporous silica nanocarriers (MSNs) are appealing in terms of their large cavity surface area and high loading capacity, but they have been suffering from premature cargo release. Herein, we report a gated smart MSN that is sensitive to low oxygen concentration (i.e., hypoxia) via taking advantage of the superior electron-accepting ability of the azobenzene moiety. The azobenzene polymer was employed as the responsive gate-keeper that was deposited on the MSN surface, followed by coating with amphiphilic Pluronic F68 for steric stabilization. The obtained nanocarriers were less than 200 nm. The in vitro polymer degradation was spectrophotometrically witnessed via the employment of a reducing agent, namely, sodium dithionite, with a strong electron-donating ability. The hypoxia-responsive cargo release from the gated MSN was quantitatively demonstrated in breast cancer cells (MCF-7) using the fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) technique where coumarin 6 and rhodamine B was selected as the FRET donor and acceptor, respectively. The FRET ratio was used as the index and decreased linearly over time under hypoxia, whereas it almost remained steady under normoxia. In addition, a model photosensitizer, namely, chlorin e6, was also loaded in the gated MSN whose toxicity under hypoxia was verified. This study developed a hypoxia-responsive MSN with the azobenzene polymer as the removable gate-keeper, which would expand the application of MSNs in pharmaceutical and biomedical areas since the low oxygen concentration is a unique trigger in many pathological conditions.