Simple nanophotosensitizer fabrication using water-soluble chitosan for photodynamic therapy in gastrointestinal cancer cells

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The polysaccharide chitosan has abundant cationic amine groups, and can form ion-complexes with anionic molecules such as the strong photosensitizer chlorin e6 (Ce6). In this study, water-soluble chitosan (WSC) was used to fabricate Ce6-incorporated nanophotosensitizers (Abbreviated as ChitoCe6 nanophotosensitizer) via a self-assembling process. This was accomplished by dissolving WSC in pure water and then directly mixing the solution with solid Ce6 causing ion complex formation between WSC and Ce6. The resulting nanophotosensitizer was spherical in shape and had a particle size of less than 300 nm. The photodynamic effect of ChitoCe6 nanophotosensitizer was evaluated using gastrointestinal (GI) cancer cells. At in vitro study using SNU478 cholangiocarcinoma cells, ChitoCe6 nanophotosensitizer showed improved Ce6 uptake by tumor cells, reactive oxygen species production, and cellular phototoxicity. An in vivo study using SNU478-bearing nude mice showed that the ChitoCe6 nanophotosensitizer efficiently accumulated in the tumor tissue and inhibited tumor growth more than treatment with Ce6 alone. Furthermore, ChitoCe6 nanophotosensitizer was also efficiently absorbed through tissue layers in an ex vivo study using porcine bile duct explants. ChitoCe6 nanophotosensitizer showed enhanced photosensitivity and photodynamic effects against cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. We present ChitoCe6 nanophotosensitizer as a promising candidate for photodynamic therapy of GI cancer.Graphical abstract

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