The pimpled gold nanosphere: a superior candidate for plasmonic photothermal therapy

Behzad Nasseri*, Mustafa Turk, Kemal Kosemehmetoglu, Murat Kaya, Erhan Piskin, Navid Rabiee, Thomas J. Webster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The development of highly efficient nanoparticles to convert light to heat for anti-cancer applications is quite a challenging field of research.

Methods: In this study, we synthesized unique pimpled gold nanospheres (PGNSs) for plas-monic photothermal therapy (PPTT). The light-to-heat conversion capability of PGNSs and PPTT damage at the cellular level were investigated using a tissue phantom model. The ability of PGNSs to induce robust cellular damage was studied during cytotoxicity tests on colorectal adenocarcinoma (DLD-1) and fibroblast cell lines. Further, a numerical model of plasmonic (COMSOL Multiphysics) properties was used with the PPTT experimental assays.

Results: A low cytotoxic effect of thiolated polyethylene glycol (SH-PEG400-SH-) was observed which improved the biocompatibility of PGNSs to maintain 89.4% cell viability during cytometry assays (in terms of fibroblast cells for 24 hrs at a concentration of 300 µg/ mL). The heat generated from the nanoparticle-mediated phantom models resulted in ΔT=30°C, ΔT=23.1°C and ΔT=21°C for the PGNSs, AuNRs, and AuNPs, respectively (at a 300 µg/mL concentration and for 325 sec). For the in vitro assays of PPTT on cancer cells, the PGNS group induced a 68.78% lethality (apoptosis) on DLD-1 cells. Fluorescence microscopy results showed the destruction of cell membranes and nuclei for the PPTT group. Experiments further revealed a penetration depth of sufficient PPTT damage in a physical tumor model after hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining through pathological studies (at depths of 2, 3 and 4 cm). Severe structural damages were observed in the tissue model through an 808-nm laser exposed to the PGNSs.

Conclusion: Collectively, such results show much promise for the use of the present PGNSs and photothermal therapy for numerous anti-cancer applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2903-2920
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Nanomedicine
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • plasmonic
  • photothermal therapy
  • gold nanoparticles
  • colorectal cells
  • pathology


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