The Synergistic Cytotoxic Effect of Laser-Irradiated Gold Nanoparticles and Sorafenib Against the Growth of a Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cell Line

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Cancer Biology, National Cancer Institute (NCI), Cairo University, Giza, Egypt.

2 Department of Medical Applications, National Institute of Laser-Enhanced Science, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt.

3 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt.


Gold nanoparticles are the most promising candidate in cancer treatment due to their physiochemical properties
and increased use in photothermal therapy (PTT). In the present study, spherical gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) were
synthesized using citrate reduction method. The particles were then characterized using UV-VIS spectroscopy and
transmission electron microscope. A hepatocellular carcinoma cell line (HepG2) was incubated with sorafenib and/or
non-irradiated or laser-irradiated AuNPs for 48 hrs. The cytotoxic effect of different treatment modalities was determined
using MTT assay. Furthermore, apoptosis was determined by flow cytometry using annexin V/propidium iodide, as
well as estimating the level of caspases. Results showed that AuNPs and sorafenib reduced HepG2 cell viability, and
the cytotoxicity was associated with increased release of LDH in the culture medium. The recorded cytotoxicity was
attributed to enhanced apoptosis as revealed by increased cellular caspases (3, 8 and 9), that was further confirmed by
flow cytometry. The most notable cytotoxic effect was recorded when combining sorafenib with laser-irradiated AuNPs.
In conclusion, a synergistic cytotoxic effect was observed between sorafenib and laser-irradiated AuNPs against the
growth of HepG2, suggesting the potential substitution of large toxic doses of sorafenib by lower doses in combination
with photothermal therapy.


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