Remote Control of Neural Stem Cell Fate Using NIR-Responsive Photoswitching Upconversion Nanoparticle Constructs

Yixiao Zhang, Lisa M. Wiesholler, Hudifah Rabie, Pengfei Jiang, Jinping Lai, Thomas Hirsch, Ki Bum Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Light-mediated remote control of stem cell fate, such as proliferation, differentiation, and migration, can bring a significant impact on stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. Current UV/vis-mediated control approaches are limited in terms of nonspecific absorption, poor tissue penetration, and phototoxicity. Upconversion nanoparticle (UCNP)-based near-infrared (NIR)-mediated control systems have gained increasing attention for vast applications with minimal nonspecific absorption, good penetration depth, and minimal phototoxicity from NIR excitations. Specifically, 808 nm NIR-responsive upconversion nanomaterials have shown clear advantages for biomedical applications owing to diminished heating effects and better tissue penetration. Herein, a novel 808 nm NIR-mediated control method for stem cell differentiation has been developed using multishell UCNPs, which are optimized for upconverting 808 nm NIR light to UV emission. The locally generated UV emissions further toggle photoswitching polymer capping ligands to achieve spatiotemporally controlled small-molecule release. More specifically, with 808 nm NIR excitation, stem cell differentiation factors can be released to guide neural stem cell (NSC) differentiation in a highly controlled manner. Given the challenges in stem cell behavior control, the developed 808 nm NIR-responsive UCNP-based approach to control stem cell differentiation can represent a new tool for studying single-molecule roles in stem cell and developmental biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40031-40041
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number36
StatePublished - Sep 9 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science


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