Lipogels responsive to near-infrared light for the triggered release of therapeutic agents

Francisco Martín-Saavedra*, Eduardo Ruiz-Hernández, Clara Escudero-Duch, Martín Prieto, Manuel Arruebo, Negar Sadeghi, Roel Deckers, Gert Storm, Wim E. Hennink, Jesús Santamaría, Nuria Vilaboa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Here we report a composite system based on fibrin hydrogels that incorporate in their structure near-infrared (NIR) responsive nanomaterials and thermosensitive liposomes (TSL). Polymerized fibrin networks entrap simultaneously gold-based nanoparticles (NPs) capable of transducing NIR photon energy into heat, and lysolipid-incorporated TSL (LTSL) loaded with doxorubicin hydrochloride (DOX). NIR irradiation of the resulting hydrogels (referred to as "lipogels") with 808. nm laser light increased the temperature of the illuminated areas, leading to the release of the liposomal cargo. Levels of DOX that release from the "smart" composites were dependent on the concentration of NIR nanotransducers loaded in the lipogel, the intensity of the electromagnetic energy deposited and the irradiation regime. Released DOX retained its bioactivity, as shown in cultures of epithelial carcinoma cells. Finally, the developed drug delivery platform was refined by using NIR-photoabsorbers based on copper sulfide NPs to generate completely biodegradable composites as well as through the incorporation of cholesterol (Ch) in LTSL formulation, which lessens leakiness of the liposomal cargo at physiological temperature. This remotely controlled system may suit well for those therapies that require precise control over the dose of delivered drug in a defined spatiotemporal framework. Statement of Significance: Hydrogels composed of fibrin embedding nanoparticles responsive to near infrared (NIR) energy and thermosensitive liposomes loaded with doxorubicin hydrochloride (DOX), were prepared by in situ polymerization. NIR-light irradiation of these constructs, referred to as "NIR responsive lipogels", results in the controlled release of DOX to the surrounding medium. This technology may use fully degradable components and can preserve the bioactivity of liposomal cargo after remote triggering to finely regulate the dose and bioavailability of delivered payloads. NIR responsive lipogels technology overcomes the limitations of drug release systems based on the combination of liposomes and degradable polymeric materials, which in many cases lead to insufficient release at therapy onset or to overdose during high degradation period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-65
Number of pages12
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • Hydrogel
  • Near infrared
  • Optical hyperthermia
  • Photoabsorber
  • Thermosensitive liposome


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