Effect of plasmonic gold nanoparticles on benign and malignant cellular autofluorescence: A novel probe for fluorescence based detection of cancer


Due to the strong surface fields of noble metal nanoparticles, absorption and scattering of electromagnetic radiation is greatly enhanced. Noble metallic nanoparticles represent potential novel optical probes for simultaneous molecular imaging and photothermal cancer therapy using the enhanced scattering and absorption of light. Further, gold nanoparticles can affect molecular fluorescence via chemical, electronic, or photonic interactions. Live cells generate fluorescence due to intracellular and extracellular molecules. Differences in the biochemical composition between healthy and malignant cells can be exploited in vivo to help identify cancer spectroscopically. The interaction of gold nanoparticles with cellular autofluorescence has not yet been characterized. We hypothesized that gold nanoparticles delivered to live cells in vitro would alter cellular autofluorescence and may be useful as a novel class of contrast agent for fluorescence based detection of cancer. The fluorescence of two fluorophores that are responsible for tissue autofluorescence, NADH and collagen, and of two oral squamous carcinoma cell lines and one immortalized benign epithelial cell line were measured in vitro. Gold nanoparticles of different shapes, both spheres and rods, quenched the fluorescence of the soluble NADH and collagen. Reduction of NADH fluorescence was due to oxidation of NADH to NAD+ catalyzed by gold nanoparticles (results we previously published). Reduction of collagen fluorescence appears due to photonic absorption of light. Furthermore, a mean quenching of 12/8% (p<0.00050) of the tissue autofluorescence of cell suspensions was achieved in this model when nanospheres were incubated with the live cells. Gold nanospheres significantly decrease cellular autofluorescence of live cells under physiological conditions when excited at 280nm. This is the first report to our knowledge to suggest the potential of developing targeted gold nanoparticles optical probes as contrast agents for fluorescence based diagnoses of cancer. ©Adenine Press (2007).

Publication Title

Technology in Cancer Research and Treatment