Antibody-functionalized gold nanoparticles as tumor targeting radiosensitizers for proton therapy

Sha Li, Sandra Bouchy, Sebastien Penninckx, Riccardo Marega, Ornella Fichera, Bernard Gallez, Olivier Feron, Philippe Martinive, Anne-Catherine Heuskin, Carine Michiels, Stéphane Lucas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


AIM: This study aimed at developing antibody-functionalized gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) to selectively target cancer cells and probing their potential radiosensitizing effects under proton irradiation.

MATERIALS & METHODS: AuNPs were conjugated with cetuximab (Ctxb-AuNPs). Ctxb-AuNP uptake was evaluated by transmission electron microscopy and atomic absorption spectroscopy. Radioenhancing effect was assessed using conventional clonogenic assay.

RESULTS & CONCLUSION: Ctxb-AuNPs specifically bound to and accumulated in EGFR-overexpressing A431 cells, compared with EGFR-negative MDA-MB-453 cells. Ctxb-AuNPs enhanced the effect of proton irradiation in A431 cells but not in MDA-MB-453 cells. These data indicate, for the first time, that combining enhanced uptake by specific targeting and radioenhancing effect, using conjugated AuNPs, is a promising strategy to increase cell killing by protontherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-333
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • EGFR
  • gold nanoparticles
  • nanoparticle uptake
  • protontherapy
  • radiosentizing effects
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Humans
  • Proton Therapy/methods
  • Metal Nanoparticles/chemistry
  • Cetuximab/chemistry
  • Gold/chemistry
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents/chemistry
  • Antibodies/chemistry
  • Cell Line, Tumor


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