Synthesis and in vitro phototoxicity of multifunctional Zn(II)meso-tetrakis(4-carboxyphenyl)porphyrin-coated gold nanoparticles assembled via axial coordination with imidazole ligands

María E. Alea-Reyes, Oriol Penon, Paula García Calavia, María J. Marín, David A. Russell, Lluïsa Pérez-García

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
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Hypothesis: Metalloporphyrins are extensively investigated for their ability to form reactive oxygen species and as potent photosensitisers for use in photodynamic therapy. However, their hydrophobicity generally causes solubility issues concerning in vivo delivery due to lack of distribution and low clearance from the body. Immobilising porphyrins on carriers, such as gold nanoparticles (GNP), can overcome some of these drawbacks. The mode of assembling the porphyrins to the carrier influences the properties of the resulting drug delivery systems.

Experiments: We describe the synthesis and characterisation of new porphyrin decorated water soluble GNP and we explore Zn-imidazole axial coordination as the mode of linking the porphyrin to the metallic core of the nanoparticles. Quantification of singlet oxygen production, toxicity in dark, cellular uptake by SK-BR-3 cells and phototoxicity have been assessed.

Findings: Axial coordination limits the number of porphyrins on the gold surface, reduces the formation of aggregates, and diminishes metal exchange in the porphyrin, all of which contribute to enhance the efficiency of singlet oxygen generation from the immobilised porphyrin. In vitro experiments on SK-BR-3 cells reveal a fast uptake followed by more than 80% cell death after irradiation with low doses of light.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-90
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Early online date7 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • n(II)meso-tetrakis(4-carboxyphenyl)porphyrin
  • gold nanoparticles
  • imidazole ligands
  • Zn(II)-imidazole axial coordination
  • singlet oxygen production
  • SK-BR-3 cells
  • cellular uptake
  • dark cytotoxicity
  • phototoxiciy
  • photodynamic therapy

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