A cytotoxic photosensitizer encapsulated within a redox-sensitive biocompatible nanogel (IrNG) exhibited good biocompatibility and stability in the dark. It showed cancer-selective cytotoxicity upon photoirradiation through the dual-modulated hyperoxidation of disulfide bonds by intracellular glutathione (GSH) and photogenerated reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Reversible thiol-disulfide exchange chemistry is of particular interest in drug delivery systems. However, high levels of glutathione (GSH) in cancer cells are hard to distinguish from GSH in normal cells, resulting in unmanageable cytotoxic drug release. This study investigates the spatiotemporally-controlled irreversible degradation of Ir-based photosensitizer (TIr3)-encapsulating nanogels (IrNG) through the hyperoxidation of resulting intracellular thiols using reactive oxygen species (ROS). A highly cytotoxic TIr3 was stably encapsulated within IrNG through hydrophobic interactions and reversible crosslinking between its disulfide bonds and thiols in the absence of light, resulting in high biocompatibility under normal cellular conditions. However, upon photoirradiation, TIr3 generated high levels of ROS, irreversibly oxidizing the thiols to induce electrostatic repulsion between the polymer molecules, resulting in the TIr3 release and induction of cancer cell apoptosis.Zum Volltext