Hyperthermia induced by gold nanoparticles and visible light photothermy combined with chemotherapy to tackle doxorubicin sensitive and resistant colorectal tumor 3D spheroids

Authors: Roma-Rodrigues C, Pombo I, Fernandes AR, Baptista PV.

Portugal International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2020


Current cancer therapies are frequently ineffective and associated with severe side effects and with acquired cancer drug resistance. The development of effective therapies has been hampered by poor correlations between pre-clinical and clinical outcomes. Cancer cell-derived spheroids are three-dimensional (3D) structures that mimic layers of tumors in terms of oxygen and nutrient and drug resistance gradients. Gold nanoparticles (AuNP) are promising therapeutic agents which permit diminishing the emergence of secondary effects and increase therapeutic efficacy. In this work, 3D spheroids of Doxorubicin (Dox)-sensitive and -resistant colorectal carcinoma cell lines (HCT116 and HCT116-DoxR, respectively) were used to infer the potential of the combination of chemotherapy and Au-nanoparticle photothermy in the visible (green laser of 532 nm) to tackle drug resistance in cancer cells. Cell viability analysis of 3D tumor spheroids suggested that AuNPs induce cell death in the deeper layers of spheroids, further potentiated by laser irradiation. The penetration of Dox and earlier spheroid disaggregation is potentiated in combinatorial therapy with Dox, AuNP functionalized with polyethylene glycol (AuNP@PEG) and irradiation. The time point of Dox administration and irradiation showed to be important for spheroids destabilization. In HCT116-sensitive spheroids, pre-irradiation induced earlier disintegration of the 3D structure, while in HCT116 Dox-resistant spheroids, the loss of spheroid stability occurred almost instantly in post-irradiated spheroids, even with lower Dox concentrations. These results point towards the application of new strategies for cancer therapeutics, reducing side effects and resistance acquisition.