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LaF3: Tb3+ nanoparticles show adaptability to targeted therapy for a safer cancer cell treatment

Ghazaleh Rafatian, Seyed Jalal Zargar, Shahrokh Safarian, Susan Sadjadpour, and Najmeh Mozdoori

Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, School of Biology, College of Science, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran



Received: 21 January 2021  Accepted: 22 June 2021



Lanthanide-doped nanoparticles are potential candidates for photodynamic therapy (PDT) owing to their chemical and optical features. Following irradiation by X-ray or UV light, these scintillating nanoparticles emit light matching the photosensitizer absorption spectrum. These properties allow both targeted cancer therapy and deep cancer treatment.

Methods and results

LaF3: Tb3+ nanoparticles were synthesized and characterized before conjugation to the photosensitizing agent, meso-tetra (4-carboxyphenyl) porphine (MTCP) or its copper form (CuMTCP). Photosensitizer conjugated LaF3:Tb3+ nanoparticles were readily taken up by the cells. The cytotoxic effect of drug-conjugated nanoparticle as PDT mediator and its precursors were examined on the breast (T47D) and prostate (LNCap) cancer cell lines. Neither of the molecules showed cytotoxicity at the dark condition. Cell viability was also measured after brief exposure to safe doses of UV light or X-ray to evaluate the effectiveness for surface and deep tumor therapy, respectively. Viability testing confirmed that while the nanoparticles and photosensitizing agents had minimal toxicity under UV light or X-ray, MTCP-conjugated LaF3:Tb3+ nanoparticles significantly reduced cell viability. Conjugation of folic acid to photosensitizer-LaF3:Tb3+ nanoparticles as a targeting molecule did not show interference with the toxicity of the system assuring the suitability of MTCP-LaF3:Tb3+ nanoparticles for targeted therapy of deep and surface cancers.


MTCP-LaF3:Tb3+ nanoparticles are lethal upon activation by UV light or X-ray allowing their usage for surface and deep cancer targeted therapy. The conjugation of MTCP–LaF3:Tb3+ nanoparticles to folic acid as a targeting agent for cancer therapy does not reduce the cytotoxicity of this system.

Keywords: Cancer; LaF3: Tb3+ nanoparticle; Photodynamic therapy; Radiotherapy; Combination therapy

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.1007/s11696-021-01750-4


Chemical Papers 75 (11) 5793–5801 (2021)

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