Surface-ligand effect on radiosensitization of ultrasmall luminescent gold nanoparticles

Xingya Jiang, Bujie Du, Mengxiao Yu, Xun Jia, Jie Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) could serve as potential radiotherapy sensitizers because of their exceptional biocompatibility and high-Z material nature; however, since in vitro and in vivo behaviors of AuNPs are determined not only by their particle size but also by their surface chemistries, whether surface ligands can affect their radiosensitization has seldom been investigated in the radiosensitization of AuNPs. By conducting head-to-head comparison on radiosensitization of two kinds of ultrasmall (∼2nm) near-infrared (NIR) emitting AuNPs that are coated with zwitterionic glutathione and neutral polyethylene glycol (PEG) ligands, respectively, we found that zwitterionic glutathione coated AuNPs (GS-AuNPs) can reduce survival rates of MCF-7 cells under irradiation of clinically used megavoltage photon beam at low dosage of ∼ 2.25Gy. On the other hand, PEG-AuNPs can serve as a radiation-protecting agent and enabled MCF-7 cells more resistant to the irradiation, clearly indicating the key role of surface chemistry in radiosensitization of AuNPs. More detailed studies suggested that such difference was independent of cellular uptake and its efficiency, but might be related to the ligand-induced difference in photoelectron generation and/or interactions between AuNPs and X-ray triggered reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1642003
JournalJournal of Innovative Optical Health Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Gold nanoparticles
  • cell uptake
  • radiation-protecting
  • radiosensitizer
  • surface-ligand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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