Macrophages as cell-based delivery systems for nanoshells in photothermal therapy

Steen J. Madsen, Seung Kuk Baek, Amani R. Makkouk, Tatiana Krasieva, Henry Hirschberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


Site-specific delivery of nanoparticles poses a significant challenge, especially in the brain where the blood-brain barrier prevents the entry of most therapeutic compounds including nanoparticle-based anti-cancer agents. In this context, the use of macrophages as vectors for the delivery of gold-silica nanoshells to infiltrating gliomas will be reviewed in this article. Gold-silica nanoshells are readily phagocytosed by macrophages without any apparent toxic effects, and the results of in vitro studies have demonstrated the migratory potential of nanoshell-loaded macrophages in human glioma spheroids. Of particular interest is the observation that, after near-infrared exposure of spheroids containing nanoshell-loaded macrophages, sufficient heat was generated to suppress spheroid growth. Collectively, these findings demonstrate the potential of macrophages as nanoshell delivery vectors for photothermal therapy of gliomas, and they certainly provide the basis for future animal studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-515
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Feb

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was partially supported by the Health Sciences System of the Nevada System of Higher Education through the Inter-Institutional Biomedical Research Activities Fund (IBRAF). This study was also supported by the Laser Microbeam and Medical Program (LAMMP) and the Chao Cancer Center Optical Biology Shared Resource at the University of California, Irvine. Henry Hirschberg is grateful for the support received from the Norwegian Radiumhospital Research Foundation.


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Gliomas
  • Gold-silica nanoshells
  • Macrophages
  • Nanoparticles
  • Spheroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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