Multifunctional DNA-gold nanoparticles for targeted doxorubicin delivery

Colleen M. Alexander, Kristen L. Hamner, Mathew M. Maye, James C. Dabrowiak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


In this report we describe the synthesis, characterization, and cytotoxic properties of DNA-capped gold nanoparticles having attached folic acid (FA), a thermoresponsive polymer (p), and/or poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) oligomers that could be used to deliver the anticancer drug doxorubicin (DOX) in chemotherapy. The FA-DNA oligomer used in the construction of the delivery vehicle was synthesized through the reaction of the isolated folic acid N-hydroxysuccinimide ester with the amino-DNA and the conjugated DNA product was purified using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). This approach ultimately allowed control of the amount of FA attached to the surface of the delivery vehicle. Cytotoxicity studies using SK-N-SH neuroblastoma cells with drug loaded delivery vehicles were carried out using a variety of exposure times (1-48 h) and recovery times (1-72 h), and in order to access the effects of varying amounts of attached FA, in culture media deficient in FA. DOX loaded delivery vehicles having 50% of the DNA strands with attached FA were more cytotoxic than when all of the strands contained FA. Since FA stimulates cell growth, the reduced cytotoxicity of vehicles fully covered with FA suggests that the stimulatory effects of FA can more than compensate for the cytotoxic effects of the drug on the cell population. While attachment of hexa-ethylene glycol PEG(18) to the surface of the delivery vehicle had no effect on cytotoxicity, 100% FA plus the thermoresponsive polymer resulted in IC50 = 0.48 ± 0.01 for an exposure time of 24 h and a recovery time of 1 h, which is an order of magnitude more cytotoxic than free DOX. Confocal microscopic studies using fluorescence detection showed that SK-N-SH neuroblastoma cells exposed to DOX-loaded vehicles have drug accumulation inside the cell and, in the case of vehicles with attached FA and thermoresponsive polymer, the drug appears more concentrated. Since the biological target of DOX is DNA, the latter observation is consistent with the high cytotoxicity of vehicles having both FA and the thermoresponsive polymer. The study highlights the potential of DNA-capped gold nanoparticles as delivery vehicles for doxorubicin in cancer chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1261-1271
Number of pages11
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 16 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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