Hollow gold nanoparticles as biocompatible radiosensitizer: An in vitro proof of concept study

Chienwen Huang, Vasant Kearney, Sina Moeendarbari, Ruiqian Jiang, Preston Christensen, Rakesh Tekade, Xiankai Sun, Weihua Mao, Yaowu Hao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


We report in vitro studies on radiotherapy enhancement of hollow gold nanoparticles (HAuNPs), which feature a 50 nm hollow core and a 30 nm thick polycrystalline shell. A clonogenic cell survival assay was used to assess radiation dose enhancement on breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells. Cells were cultured in a cell culture solution in which pegylated HAuNPs were added. No cytotoxicity of the HAuNPs was observed at the nanoparticle concentration up to 4.25×109 nanoparticles/ml (350 μM Au concentration). A small animal X-ray irradiator and a clinical linear accelerator were used to irradiate HAuNP-treated and control groups. It shows that the radiation damage to the cells is significantly enhanced when the cells are exposed to HAuNPs. This is the first time that AuNPs with diameter larger than 100 nm has been studied for their radiosensitizing effects. In clinical settings, we envision that HAuNPs could be intratumorally injected into tumors, which is more realistic for practical usage of AuNPs as radiosensitizer than passive accumulation in tumors using the enhanced permeability and retention effect or active targeting. Larger particles are favored for the intratumoral injection approach since larger particles tend to be retained in the injection sites, and are less likely to diffuse into surrounding normal tissues. So, this proof-of-concept evaluation shows a promising potential to use HAuNPs as radiation therapy sensitizer for cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-112
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nano Research
StatePublished - 2015


  • Gold nanoparticles
  • Hollow nanoparticles
  • Radiation dose enhancement
  • Radiation therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Hollow gold nanoparticles as biocompatible radiosensitizer: An in vitro proof of concept study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this