Real-time monitoring of ATP-responsive drug release using mesoporous-silica-coated multicolor upconversion nanoparticles

Jinping Lai, Birju P. Shah, Yixiao Zhang, Letao Yang, Ki Bum Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


Stimuli-responsive drug delivery vehicles have garnered immense interest in recent years due to unparalleled progress made in material science and nanomedicine. However, the development of stimuli-responsive devices with integrated real-time monitoring capabilities is still in its nascent stage because of the limitations of imaging modalities. In this paper, we describe the development of a polypeptide-wrapped mesoporous-silica-coated multicolor upconversion nanoparticle (UCNP@MSN) as an adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-responsive drug delivery system (DDS) for long-term tracking and real-time monitoring of drug release. Our UCNP@MSN with multiple emission peaks in UV-NIR wavelength range was functionalized with zinc-dipicolylamine analogue (TDPA-Zn2+) on its exterior surface and loaded with small-molecule drugs like chemotherapeutics in interior mesopores. The drugs remained entrapped within the UCNP-MSNs when the nanoparticles were wrapped with a compact branched polypeptide, poly(Asp-Lys)-b-Asp, because of multivalent interactions between Asp moieties present in the polypeptide and the TDPA-Zn2+ complex present on the surface of UCNP-MSNs. This led to luminescence resonance energy transfer (LRET) from the UCNPs to the entrapped drugs, which typically have absorption in UV-visible range, ultimately resulting in quenching of UCNP emission in UV-visible range while retaining their strong NIR emission. Addition of ATP led to a competitive displacement of the surface bound polypeptide by ATP due to its higher affinity to TDPA-Zn2+, which led to the release of the entrapped drugs and subsequent elimination of LRET. Monitoring of such ATP-triggered ratiometric changes in LRET allowed us to monitor the release of the entrapped drugs in real-time. Given these results, we envision that our proposed UCNP@MSN-polypeptide hybrid nanoparticle has great potential for stimuli-responsive drug delivery as well as for monitoring biochemical changes taking place in live cancer and stem cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5234-5245
Number of pages12
JournalACS nano
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 26 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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