Plasmon-resonant gold nanorods, which have large absorption cross sections at near-infrared frequencies, are excellent candidates as multifunctional agents for image-guided therapies based on localized hyperthermia. The controlled modification of the surface chemistry of the nanorods is of critical importance, as issues of cell-specific targeting and nonspecific uptake must be addressed prior to clinical evaluation. Nanorods coated with cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (a cationic surfactant used in nanorod synthesis) are internalized within hours into KB cells by a nonspecific uptake pathway, whereas the careful removal of cetyltrimethylammonium bromide from nanorods functionalized with folate results in their accumulation on the cell surface over the same time interval. In either case, the nanorods render the tumor cells highly susceptible to photothermal damage when irradiated at the nanorods' longitudinal plasmon resonance, generating extensive blebbing of the cell membrane at laser fluences as low as 30 J/cm(2).


folate receptor; hyperthermia; imaging; nanorods; nonlinear optical microscopy; plasmon resonance; targeted therapy

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