How Did Conventional Nanoparticle-Mediated Photothermal Therapy Become “Hot” in Combination with Cancer Immunotherapy?

Wan Su Yun, Ji Ho Park, Dong Kwon Lim, Cheol Hee Ahn, In Cheol Sun, Kwangmeyung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


One of the promising cancer treatment methods is photothermal therapy (PTT), which has achieved good therapeutic efficiency through nanoparticle-based photoabsorbers. Because of the various functions of nanoparticles, such as targeting properties, high light-to-heat conversion, and photostability, nanoparticle-mediated PTT successfully induces photothermal damage in tumor tissues with minimal side effects on surrounding healthy tissues. The therapeutic efficacy of PTT originates from cell membrane disruption, protein denaturation, and DNA damage by light-induced heat, but these biological impacts only influence localized tumor areas. This conventional nanoparticle-mediated PTT still attracts attention as a novel cancer immunotherapy, because PTT causes immune responses against cancer. PTT-induced immunogenic cell death activates immune cells for systemic anti-cancer effect. Additionally, the excellent compatibility of PTT with other treatment methods (e.g., chemotherapy and immune checkpoint blockade therapy) reinforces the therapeutic efficacy of PTT as combined immunotherapy. In this review, we investigate various PTT agents of nanoparticles and compare their applications to reveal how nanoparticle-mediated PTT undergoes a transition from thermotherapy to immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2044
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Apr 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by KU-KIST Graduate School of Converging Science and Technology of Korea University, Intramural Research Program (2E31621), and Medical Intelligence for Digitally Assisted Surgery (2E31571) of Korea Institute of Science and Technology.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • cancer
  • immunotherapy
  • photothermal therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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