Research Papers:

Tumor-tropic endothelial colony forming cells (ECFCs) loaded with near-infrared sensitive Au nanoparticles: A “cellular stove” approach to the photoablation of melanoma

Giancarlo Margheri, Angela Zoppi, Roberto Olmi, Silvana Trigari, Rita Traversi, Mirko Severi, Daniele Bani, Francesca Bianchini, Eugenio Torre, Francesca Margheri, Anastasia Chillà, Alessio Biagioni, Lido Calorini, Anna Laurenzana, Gabriella Fibbi _ and Mario Del Rosso

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:39846-39860. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.9511

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Giancarlo Margheri1, Angela Zoppi2,3, Roberto Olmi4, Silvana Trigari1, Rita Traversi5, Mirko Severi5, Daniele Bani6, Francesca Bianchini7, Eugenio Torre7, Francesca Margheri7, Anastasia Chillà7, Alessio Biagioni7, Lido Calorini7,8, Anna Laurenzana7, Gabriella Fibbi7, Mario Del Rosso7,8

1Institute for Complex Systems, National Research Council, Sesto Fiorentino, Italy

2Department of Physics “Enrico Fermi”, University of Pisa, Italy

3Present address: Plasmatech, Department of Physics “Enrico Fermi”, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy

4Institute of Applied Physics “Nello Carrara”, National Research Council, Sesto Fiorentino, Italy

5Department of Chemistry “Ugo Schiff”, University of Florence, Sesto Fiorentino, Italy

6Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Florence, Florence, Italy

7Department of Experimental and Clinical Biomedical Science, University of Florence, Florence, Italy

8Excellence Center for Research, Transfer and High Education ‘Study at Molecular and Clinical Level of Chronic, Inflammatory, Degenerative and Neoplastic Disorders for the Development on Novel Therapies’, Florence, Italy

Correspondence to:

Anna Laurenzana, email: [email protected]

Gabriella Fibbi, email: [email protected]

Keywords: gold nanoparticles, endothelial colony forming cells (ECFCs), chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor 4 (CXCR4), melanoma, tumor thermoablation

Received: January 13, 2016     Accepted: May 08, 2016     Published: May 20, 2016


In the photothermal treatments (PTs) of tumor, the localization of a high number of near-infrared (NIR) absorbing gold nanoparticles in the tumor mass is still a challenging issue. Here, we propose a promising strategy to deliver therapeutic chitosan-coated gold nanoparticles to tumor cells as hidden cargo of Endothelial Colony Forming Cells (ECFCs) endowed with an innate tumor-tropism. Remarkably, ECFC gold enrichement doesn’t affect cell viability and preserves the endothelial lineage characteristics such as capillary morphogenesis and cell migration. We demonstrate that heavily Au-doped ECFCs are able to efficiently warm up the tumor environment, and kill the cancer cells via hyperthermic heating both in vitro as well as in vivo. Thus, we show an excellent thermotransductive property of gold enriched ECFCs and their capability to kill melanoma cells at moderate NIR light intensities.

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PII: 9511