Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is an emerging clinical modality for the treatment of a variety of diseases. Most photosensitizers are hydrophobic and poorly soluble in water. Many new nanoplatforms have been successfully established to improve the delivery efficiency of PS drugs. However, few reported studies have investigated how the carrier microenvironment may affect the photophysical properties of photosensitizer (PS) drugs and subsequently, their biological efficacy in killing malignant cells. In this study, we describe the modulation of type I and II photoactivation processes of the photosensitizer, 5,10,15,20-tetrakis(meso-hydroxyphenyl)porphyrin (mTHPP), by the micelle core environment. Electron-rich poly(2-(diisopropylamino)ethyl methacrylate) (PDPA) micelles increased photoactivations from type II to type I mechanisms, which significantly increased the generation of O2·− through the electron transfer pathway over 1O2 production through energy transfer process. The PDPA micelles led to enhanced phototoxicity over the electron-deficient poly(D,L-lactide) control in multiple cancer cell lines under argon-saturated conditions. These data suggest that micelle carriers may not only improve the bioavailability of photosensitizer drugs, but also modulate photophysical properties for improved PDT efficacy.Graphical abstract
Table of Content Graphics: The electron-rich mTHPP-PDPA micelles resulted in the increase of type I photoactivation reactions and higher phototoxicity in multiple cancer cells under hypoxic conditions.