Photo-stimulation of persistent luminescence nanoparticles enhances cancer cells death

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Persistent luminescence nanoparticles made of ZnGa1.995Cr0.005O4 (ZGO-NPs) are innovative nanomaterials that emit photons during long periods of time after the end of the excitation, allowing their use as diagnosis probes for in vivo optical imaging. During the excitation process, a part of the energy is stored in traps to further emit photons over long time. However, we observed in this study that some of the energy reduces molecular oxygen to produce reactive oxygen species (ROS). Following this observation, theoxidative stress induction and cytotoxic effects of these NPs were investigated on human breast cancer cells. The results indicate that ROS production was stimulated by exposition of the hydroxylated ZGO-NPs to UV or visible light, and the oxidative stress induced in cells after internalization can be directly correlated to their dose-dependent inhibition of cell viability. On the contrary, PEGylated ZGO–NPs were not uptaken by cells and have no effect on the production of ROS. Thus, the cell viability was not altered by these nanoparticles. This study reveals the importance of considering light irradiation and surface coating of luminescent nanoparticles toxicity which open new perspectives for their use in photodynamic therapy.

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