Synthesis and characterization of pHLIP® coated gold nanoparticles

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Novel approaches in synthesis of spherical and multispiked gold nanoparticles coated with polyethylene glycol (PEG) and pH Low Insertion Peptide (pHLIP®) were introduced. The presence of a tumor-targeting pHLIP® peptide in the nanoparticle coating enhances the stability of particles in solution and promotes a pH-dependent cellular uptake. The spherical particles were prepared with sodium citrate as a gold reducing agent to form particles of 7.0±2.5 nm in mean metallic core diameter and ∼43 nm in mean hydrodynamic diameter. The particles that were injected into tumors in mice (21 µg of gold) were homogeneously distributed within a tumor mass with no staining of the muscle tissue adjacent to the tumor. Up to 30% of the injected gold dose remained within the tumor one hour post-injection. The multispiked gold nanoparticles with a mean metallic core diameter of 146.0±50.4 nm and a mean hydrodynamic size of ~161 nm were prepared using ascorbic acid as a reducing agent and disk-like bicelles as a template. Only the presence of a soft template, like bicelles, ensured the appearance of spiked nanoparticles with resonance in the near infrared region. The irradiation of spiked gold nanoparticles by an 805 nm laser led to the time- and concentration-dependent increase of temperature. Both pHLIP® and PEG coated gold spherical and multispiked nanoparticles might find application in radiation and thermal therapies of tumors.

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Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports