International journal of nanomedicine

Upconversion nanoparticle-mediated photodynamic therapy induces THP-1 macrophage apoptosis via ROS bursts and activation of the mitochondrial caspase pathway.

PMID 26045663


Atherosclerosis (AS) is the most vital cardiovascular disease, which poses a great threat to human health. Macrophages play an important role in the progression of AS. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) has emerged as a useful therapeutic modality not only in the treatment of cancer but also in the treatment of AS. The purpose of this study was to determine the molecular mechanisms underlying the activity of PDT, using mesoporous-silica-coated upconversion fluorescent nanoparticles encapsulating chlorin e6 (UCNPs-Ce6) in the induction of apoptosis in THP-1 macrophages. Here, we investigated the ability of UCNPs-Ce6-mediated PDT to induce THP-1 macrophage apoptosis by facilitating the induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and regulation of mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP) to depolarize mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP). Both Bax translocation and the release of cytochrome C were examined using immunofluorescence and Western blotting. Our results indicated that the levels of ROS were significantly increased in the PDT group, resulting in both MPTP opening and MMP depolarization, which led to apoptosis. In addition, immunofluorescence and Western blotting revealed that PDT induced both Bax translocation and the release of cytochrome C, as well as upregulation of cleaved caspase-9, cleaved caspase-3, and cleaved poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. Therefore, we demonstrated that UCNPs-Ce6-mediated PDT induces apoptosis in THP-1 macrophages via ROS bursts. The proapoptotic factor Bax subsequently translocates from the cytosol to the mitochondria, resulting in the MPTP opening and cytochrome C release. This study demonstrated the great potential of UCNPs-Ce6-mediated PDT in the treatment of AS.