Self-quenchable indocyanine green (ICG)-encapsulated micelles with folic acid (FA)-targeting specificity (FA-ICG-micelles) were developed for biologically activatable photodynamic theranostics. FA-ICG-micelles were successfully prepared using the thin-film hydration method, which allows ICG to be encapsulated with a high drug loading that induces an efficient ICGbased quenched state. FA-ICG-micelles are initially in the "OFF" state with no fluorescence signal or phototoxicity, but they become highly fluorescent and phototoxic in cellular degradative environments. Importantly, via folate receptor-mediated endocytosis, the FA targeting of FA-ICG-micelles enhanced intracellular uptake and photodynamic therapy (PDT) efficacy. Systematic administration of FA-ICG-micelles to folate receptor-positive tumor-bearing mice elicited prolonged blood circulation, enhanced tumor accumulation and improved therapeutic efficiency compared to free ICG. Therefore, based on the FA-targeted specificity and switchable photoactivity, FA-ICG-micelles have potential for photodynamic theranostics in cancer.
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- Cellular "OFF/ON" switch
- Folic acid
- Indocyanine green
- Photodynamic theranostics