Theranostic nanoplatform based on polypyrrole nanoparticles for photoacoustic imaging and photothermal therapy

  • Hui Liu
  • Wenchao Li
  • Yang Cao
  • Yuan Guo
  • Yuejun Kang
Research Paper


Development of effective theranostic nanoplatforms against malignant tumor is still a challenge. With desirable near-infrared (NIR) light-responsive properties, polypyrrole nanoparticles (PPy NPs) are one of the promising theranostic candidates for cancer photoacoustic imaging and photothermal therapy. Here, PPy NPs with distinct sizes were prepared using a facile aqueous dispersion polymerization method. The formed PPy NPs are uniform in size with narrow size distribution. Characterization data show that PPy NPs with a diameter around 50 nm (P50) display stronger absorption in the NIR range compared to 40 and 60 nm PPy NPs, which further influences their photo-responsive properties. Due to their higher NIR absorption, P50 NPs have better photoacoustic imaging property and photothermal conversion ability than the other two kinds of PPy NPs. The photothermal stability of P50 NPs was proved to be excellent. The CCK-8 assays show that PPy NPs have obvious acute cytotoxicity within 6 h and desirable cytocompatibility for longer incubation time (12 and 24 h). After 6-h incubation, P50 NPs could be internalized by HeLa cells. Their photothermal tumor ablation effect was demonstrated under 808-nm laser irradiation. These findings may provide in-depth understanding of the PPy-based multifunctional nanomaterials for the development of theranostic systems against cancer.


Theranostic nanoplatform Polypyrrole nanoparticles Photoacoustic imaging Photothermal therapy Nanomedicine 



This work was supported by the start-up grant from Southwest University (SWU116027, SWU115059), the Fundamental Research Funds for Central Universities from Southwest University (XDJK2016C153), the Chongqing Research Program of Basic Research and Frontier Technology (cstc2017jcyjAX0066), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81401503, 31671037, 51703184). Y.C. gratefully acknowledges the funding support of China Postdoctoral Science Foundation funded projects (2015T80963, 2016M590869) and Chongqing Postdoctoral Science Foundation funded project (Xm2015089).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Clean Energy and Advanced Materials, Faculty of Materials and EnergySouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  2. 2.Chongqing Engineering Research Center for Micro-Nano Biomedical Materials and DevicesChongqingChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Molecular Engineering of PolymersFudan UniversityShanghaiChina
  4. 4.Chongqing Key Laboratory of Ultrasound Molecular Imaging, Institute of Ultrasound Imaging, Second Affiliated HospitalChongqing Medical UniversityChongqingChina

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