Multifunctional gold nanorod theragnostics probed by multi-photon imaging

Brittany Book Newell, Yuling Wang, Joseph Irudayaraj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study exhibits the fabrication of target-specific Gold nanorods (GNRs) coupled with an anti-tumorigenic apoptotic drug and provides tracking of the labeled particles as they migrate through cells and release their drug-load to targeted cancer cells. We utilize the photoluminescence property of GNRs and their ability to be conjugated with multiple agents to transform facile rods to a targeted drug delivery vehicle. GNRs of aspect ratio 2.8 were conjugated with a targeting ligand, folic acid and an anthracycline drug, Doxorubicin. The multifunctional nanorods were then used to target folate receptor expressing cancers cells for the delivery of a concentration dependent dosage of Doxorubicin (DOX). By utilizing the photoluminescence of GNRs and the innate fluorescence of DOX, multi-photon fluorescence lifetime imaging was utilized to monitor the uptake of functionalized nanorods, the release of the drug and its localization in living cells. We show that these nano-vehicles successfully targeted cancer cells over expressing folate receptors and showed low toxicity to control cell lines. Release of DOX was observed in the cytoplasmic region and after 16 h was found to be redistributed in the nucleus resulting in cell death. Our theragnostic approach demonstrates the fabrication of multifunctional GNRs for targeted drug delivery and monitoring of the drug and the vehicle by multi-photon microscopy using fluorescence intensity and lifetime imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-337
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Doxorubicin
  • Folic acid
  • Gold nanorods
  • Multi-photon imaging
  • Targeted drug delivery
  • Theragnostics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry


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