Octaarginine-modified gold nanoparticles enhance the radiosensitivity of human colorectal cancer cell line LS180 to megavoltage radiation
Xuyang Zhang,1 Hao Wang,1 Jonathan Andrew Coulter,2 Ruijie Yang1 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing, China; 2School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University of Belfast, Belfast, UK Background: This study investigated the effectiveness and underpinning mechanisms of radiosensitization using octaarginine (R8)-modified gold nanoparticle–poly(ethylene glycol) (GNP-PEG-R8) in colorectal cancer cell line LS180 to megavoltage radiotherapy in vitro. Method: In-house synthesized GNP-PEG was characterized by transmission electron microscopy, dynamic light scattering, ultraviolet–visible spectrophotometry, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy was used to quantify internalization. Direct cytotoxicity was established using the Cell Counting Kit-8, while radiosensitivity was determined using the gold standard in vitro clonogenic assay. Cell-cycle distribution, apoptosis, reactive oxygen species (ROS), and mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) were analyzed by flow cytometry, further exploring the key mechanisms driving GNP-PEG-R8 radiosensitization. Results: The core GNP diameter was 6.3±1.1 nm (mean±SD). Following functionalization, the hydrodynamic diameter increased to 19.7±2.8 nm and 27.8±1.8 nm for GNP-PEG and GNP-PEG-R8, with respective surface plasmon resonance peaks of 515 nm and 525 nm. Furthermore, incorporation of the R8 significantly increased nanoparticle internalization compared to GNP-PEG (p<0.001) over a 1 h treatment period. Functionalized GNPs confer little cytotoxicity below 400 nM. In clonogenic assays, radiation combined with GNP-PEG-R8 induced a significant reduction in colony formation compared with radiation alone, generating a sensitizer enhancement ratio of 1.59. Furthermore, GNP-PEG-R8 plus radiation predominantly induced cell-cycle arrest in the G2/M phase, increasing G2/M stalling by an additional 10% over GNP-PEG, markedly promoting apoptosis (p<0.001). Finally, ROS levels and alterations in MMP were investigated, indicating a highly significant (p<0.001) change in both parameters following the combined treatment of GNP-PEG-R8 and radiation over radiation alone. Conclusion: R8-modified GNPs were efficiently internalized by LS180 cells, exhibiting minimal cytotoxicity. This yielded significant radiosensitization in response to megavoltage radiation. GNP-PEG-R8 may enhance radiosensitivity by arresting cell cycle and inducing apoptosis, with elevated ROS identified as the likely initiator. Keywords: gold nanoparticles, octaarginine, colorectal cancer, megavoltage radiotherapy, mechanisms, radiosensitization
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