Exploiting lipid and polymer nanocarriers to improve the anticancer sonodynamic activity of chlorophyll

Federica Bosca, Federica Foglietta, Alberto Gimenez, Roberto Canaparo, Giovanni Durando, Ilaria Andreana, Alessandro Barge, Elena Peira, Silvia Arpicco, Loredana Serpe, Barbara Stella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Sonodynamic therapy is an emerging approach that uses low-intensity ultrasound to activate a sonosensitizer agent triggering its cytotoxicity for selective cancer cell killing. Several molecules have been proposed as sonosensitizer agents, but most of these, as chlorophyll, are strongly hydrophobic with a low selectivity towards cancer tissues. Nanocarriers can help to deliver more efficiently the sonosensitizer agents in the target tumor site, increasing at the same time their sonodynamic effect, since nanosystems act as cavitation nuclei. Herein, we propose the incorporation of unmodified plant-extracted chlorophyll into nanocarriers with different composition and structure (i.e., liposomes, solid lipid nanoparticles and poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles) to obtain aqueous formulations of this natural pigment. The nanocarriers have been deeply characterized and then incubated with human prostatic cancer cells (PC-3) and spheroids (DU-145) to assess the influence of the different formulations on the chlorophyll sonodynamic effect. The highest sonodynamic cytotoxicity was obtained with chlorophyll loaded into poly(lactic-coglycolic acid) nanoparticles, showing promising results for future clinical investigations on sonodynamic therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number605
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was founded by the Italian Ministry for University and Research (MIUR)-University of Turin, “Fondi Ricerca Locale (ex-60%)”. Part of this work was possible thanks to the UNI.COO project n. 85UniTo for International Cooperation between the Department of Drug Science and Technology (Turin, Italy) and the Faculty of Pharmaceutical and Biochemical Sciences, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (Bolivia).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Cancer
  • Chlorophyll
  • Liposomes
  • PLGA
  • Solid lipid nanoparticles
  • Sonodynamic treatment
  • Sonosensitizer
  • Ultrasound


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