Plasmonic photothermal therapy utilizes biologically inert gold nanorods (AuNRs) as tumor-localized antennas that convert light into heat capable of eliminating cancerous tissue. This approach has lower morbidity than surgical resection and can potentially synergize with other treatment modalities including chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Despite these advantages, it is still challenging to obtain heating of the entire tumor mass while avoiding unnecessary collateral damage to surrounding healthy tissue. It is therefore critical to identify innovative methods to distribute an effective concentration of AuNRs throughout tumors without depositing them in surrounding healthy tissue. Here we demonstrate that AuNR-loaded, tumor-tropic neural stem cells (NSCs) can be used to improve the intratumoral distribution of AuNRs. A simple UV-vis technique for measuring AuNR loading within NSCs was established. It was then confirmed that NSC viability is unimpaired following AuNR loading and that NSCs retain AuNRs long enough to migrate throughout tumors. We then demonstrate that intratumoral injections of AuNR-loaded NSCs are more efficacious than free AuNR injections, as evidenced by reduced recurrence rates of triple-negative breast cancer (MDA-MB-231) xenografts following NIR exposure. Finally, we demonstrate that the distribution of AuNRs throughout the tumors is improved when transported by NSCs, likely resulting in the improved efficacy of AuNR-loaded NSCs as compared to free AuNRs. These findings highlight the advantage of combining cellular therapies and nanotechnology to generate more effective cancer treatments.
Growing evidence links tumor progression with chronic inflammatory processes and dysregulated activity of various immune cells. In this study, we demonstrate that various types of macrophages internalize microvesicles, called exosomes, secreted by breast cancer and non-cancerous cell lines. Although both types of exosomes targeted macrophages, only cancer-derived exosomes stimulated NF-?B activation in macrophages resulting in secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6, TNF?, GCSF, and CCL2. In vivo mouse experiments confirmed that intravenously injected exosomes are efficiently internalized by macrophages in the lung and brain, which correlated with upregulation of inflammatory cytokines. In mice bearing xenografted human breast cancers, tumor-derived exosomes were internalized by macrophages in axillary lymph nodes thereby triggering expression of IL-6. Genetic ablation of Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) or MyD88, a critical signaling adaptor in the NF-?B pathway, completely abolished the effect of tumor-derived exosomes. In contrast, inhibition of TLR4 or endosomal TLRs (TLR3/7/8/9) failed to abrogate NF-?B activation by exosomes. We further found that palmitoylated proteins present on the surface of tumor-secreted exosomes contributed to NF-?B activation. Thus, our results highlight a novel mechanism used by breast cancer cells to induce pro-inflammatory activity of distant macrophages through circulating exosomal vesicles secreted during cancer progression.
Radiative coupling of induced plasmonic fields in metal nanoparticles has drawn increasing attention in the recent literature due to a combination of improved experimental methods to study such phenomena and numerous potential applications, such as plasmonic nanoparticle rulers and plasmonic circuitry. Many groups, including ours, have used a near-exponential fit to express the size scaling of plasmonic coupling. First, we show experimental agreement between previously simulated nanorod coupling and plasmonic coupling in electron beam lithography (EBL) fabricated nanorods using the near-exponential expression. Next, we study the effect of nanoparticle orientation on plasmonic coupling using EBL and DDA simulations. We develop a mathematical relationship that is consistent with our findings and quantitatively describes plasmonic coupling between nanorods as a function of orientation, separation, induced dipole strength, and the dielectric constant of the medium. For applications utilizing plasmonic coupling to become viable with particle shapes that do not have spherical symmetry, such as nanoprisms and nanorods, comparison of the experimental and theoretical results of how particle orientation affects plasmonic coupling is essential.
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