Nanocurcumin-Loaded UCNPs for Cancer Theranostics: Physicochemical Properties, In Vitro Toxicity, and In Vivo Imaging Studies




Lakshmanan, Anbharasi
Akasov, Roman A.
Sholina, Natalya V.
Demina, Polina A.
Generalova, Alla N.
Gangadharan, Ajithkumar
Sardar, Dhiraj K.
Lankamsetty, Krishna Bharat
Khochenkov, Dmitry A.
Khaydukov, Evgeny V.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Formulation of promising anticancer herbal drug curcumin as a nanoscale-sized curcumin (nanocurcumin) improved its delivery to cells and organisms both in vitro and in vivo. We report on coupling nanocurcumin with upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) using Poly (lactic-co-glycolic Acid) (PLGA) to endow visualisation in the near-infrared transparency window. Nanocurcumin was prepared by solvent-antisolvent method. NaYF4:Yb,Er (UCNP1) and NaYF4 :Yb,Tm (UCNP2) nanoparticles were synthesised by reverse microemulsion method and then functionalized it with PLGA to form UCNP-PLGA nanocarrier followed up by loading with the solvent-antisolvent process synthesized herbal nanocurcumin. The UCNP samples were extensively characterised with XRD, Raman, FTIR, DSC, TGA, UV-VIS-NIR spectrophotometer, Upconversion spectrofluorometer, HRSEM, EDAX and Zeta Potential analyses. UCNP1-PLGA-nanocurcumin exhibited emission at 520, 540, 660 nm and UCNP2-PLGA-nanocurmin showed emission at 480 and 800 nm spectral bands. UCNPPLGA-nanocurcumin incubated with rat glioblastoma cells demonstrated moderate cytotoxicity, 60–80% cell viability at 0.12–0.02 mg/mL marginally suitable for therapeutic applications. The cytotoxicity of UCNPs evaluated in tumour spheroids models confirmed UCNP-PLGA-nanocurcumin therapeutic potential. As-synthesised curcumin-loaded nanocomplexes were administered in tumourbearing laboratory animals (Lewis lung cancer model) and showed adequate contrast to enable in vivo and ex vivo study of UCNP-PLGA-nanocurcumin bio distribution in organs, with dominant distribution in the liver and lungs. Our studies demonstrate promise of nanocurcumin-loaded upconversion nanoparticles for theranostics applications.



upconversion nanoparticles, theranostics, nanocurcumin, herbal drugs, intravital imaging


Nanomaterials 11 (9): 2234 (2021)


Physics and Astronomy