Photothermal and Photochemical Tumor Response to Carbon Nanotube Mediated Laser Cancer Therapy

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Virginia Tech


The objective of this study was to determine the photothermal and photochemical tissue response to carbon nanotube inclusion in laser therapy using experimental and computational methods. In this study, we specifically considered varying types and concentrations (0.01-1 mg/ml) of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), e.g., multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs), single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs), and single-walled carbon nanohorns (SWNHs). In order to determine the photothermal effect of CNT inclusion, the thermal conductivity and optical properties of tissue representative phantoms with CNT inclusion were measured. Thermal conductivity of tissue phantoms containing CNTs was measured using the hot wire probe method. For identical CNT concentrations, phantoms containing MWNTs had the highest thermal conductivity. Optical properties (absorption and reduced scattering coefficients) of solutions and tissue phantoms containing carbon nanotubes were measured with spectrophotometry and determined by the inverse adding doubling (IAD) method. Inclusion of CNTs in phantoms increased light absorption with minimal effect on scattering and anisotropy. Light absorption of MWNTs was found to be higher than SWNTs and SWNHs.

The photochemical response to laser irradiation (wavelength 1064 nm) of CNTs was measured with spin-trap electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. Only SWNHs appeared to produce significant levels of ROS production in response to laser excitation in the presence of NADH. We detected the predominant presence of trapped hydroxyl radical (•OH) with a trace of the trapped super oxide (O2•-) radical. These free radicals are highly reactive and could be utilized to cause targeted toxicity to cancer cells.

The distribution of CNTs at the cellular level, in phantoms, and in kidney tumors was measured using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging. Samples were imaged following various time periods (2-48h) of incubation and CNTs were observed inside the cell cytoplasm, nucleus, vacuole, and outside cells for the above mentioned time periods. CNTs in phantoms and tumor tissue were randomly and uniformly distributed in the entire volume. Computational model geometries were developed based on CNTs distribution in cells, tissue phantoms, and kidney tumor tissue.

In the computational part of this research the temperature response to laser irradiation alone or with CNT inclusion was determined using Penne's bioheat equation which was solved by finite element methods. Experimentally measured thermal conductivity and absorption and reduced scattering coefficients were used as input parameters in Penne's bioheat equation. The accuracy of the model predicted temperature distribution was determined by comparing it to experimentally measured temperature in tissue phantoms and kidney tumors following CNT inclusion and laser therapy. The model determined temperature distribution was in close correspondence with the experimentally measured temperature. Our computational model can predict the effectiveness of laser cancer therapy by predicting the transient temperature distribution.



reactive oxygen species, free radical, optical properties, thermal conductivity, nanoparticles, cancer treatment, tumor model, cellular uptake