Spatiotemporally controlled drug delivery via photothermally driven conformational change of self-integrated plasmonic hybrid nanogels

Seungki Lee, Subeen Kim, Doyun Kim, Jieun You, Ji Soo Kim, Hakchun Kim, Jungwon Park, Jihwan Song, Inhee Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Spatiotemporal regulation is one of the major considerations for developing a controlled and targeted drug delivery system to treat diseases efficiently. Light-responsive plasmonic nanostructures take advantage due to their tunable optical and photothermal properties by changing size, shape, and spatial arrangement. Results: In this study, self-integrated plasmonic hybrid nanogels (PHNs) are developed for spatiotemporally controllable drug delivery through light-driven conformational change and photothermally-boosted endosomal escape. PHNs are easily synthesized through the simultaneous integration of gold nanoparticles (GNPs), thermo-responsive poly (N-isopropyl acrylamide), and linker molecules during polymerization. Wave-optic simulations reveal that the size of the PHNs and the density of the integrated GNPs are crucial factors in modulating photothermal conversion. Several linkers with varying molecular weights are inserted for the optimal PHNs, and the alginate-linked PHN (A-PHN) achieves more than twofold enhanced heat conversion compared with others. Since light-mediated conformational changes occur transiently, drug delivery is achieved in a spatiotemporally controlled manner. Furthermore, light-induced heat generation from cellular internalized A-PHNs enables pinpoint cytosolic delivery through the endosomal rupture. Finally, the deeper penetration for the enhanced delivery efficiency by A-PHNs is validated using multicellular spheroid. Conclusion: This study offers a strategy for synthesizing light-responsive nanocarriers and an in-depth understanding of light-modulated site-specific drug delivery. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number191
JournalJournal of Nanobiotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Hybrid nanogel
  • Light-responsive delivery
  • Photothermal conversion
  • Plasmonic nanoparticles


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