Mesoporous silica-coated gold nanostars with drug payload for combined chemo-photothermal cancer therapy

Combined chemo-photothermal therapy is attracting increasing attention in the treatment of cancers. In this work, PEGylated mesoporous SiO2-coated gold nanostars (GNS@mSiO2-PEG) were synthesised without using the cytotoxic surfactant cetyltrimethylammonium bromide as the template. Mesoporous nanostructures were obtained by poly(vinylpyrrolidone) protection of the outer silica shell and NaOH etching of the inner shell. GNS@mSiO2-PEG exhibited good dispersity in medium and excellent photothermal effects. Loading capacity for the anticancer drug doxorubicin (DOX) was ∼17.9%, and the drug release profile was pH- and light-responsive. In vitro studies revealed that the as-prepared nanocomposites featured good biocompatibility. Furthermore, the nanocomposites were readily internalised by cancer cells, and a combined chemo-photothermal therapy assay revealed that DOX-loaded GNS@mSiO2-PEG have a higher therapeutic efficiency than individual therapies, demonstrating suitable synergistic effects.