Aims: Induction of apoptosis or necrosis in activated macrophages by gold nanorod-mediated photothermolysis is demonstrated and the mechanisms underlying the processes are investigated. Materials & methods: Gold nanorods were functionalized with cysteine-octaarginine peptides (R8-NRs). Uptake of R8-NRs by activated macrophages was monitored by two-photon luminescence imaging. The laser irradiation conditions were controlled to induce apoptosis or necrosis to R8-NR-internalized macrophages. Mitochondrial damage and reactive oxygen species overproduction during photothermolysis was investigated by confocal fluorescence microscopy and transmission-electron microscopy. Results: Activated macrophages efficiently uptake R8-NRs both in vitro and in live animals. Laser irradiation of internalized nanorods with controlled power density induces apoptosis of macrophages via intracellular perturbation and subsequent injury of mitochondria. Conclusions: Gold nanorod-mediated photothermolysis provides one promising way to eliminate activated macrophages in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.


apoptosis; gold nanorods; mitochondria damage; necrosis; photothermolysis; primary activated macrophages; two-photon luminescence imaging

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