Near-infrared radiation-based mild photohyperthermia therapy of non-melanoma skin cancer with PEGylated reduced nanographene oxide

Raquel Costa-Almeida, Diana Bogas, José R. Fernandes, Licínia Timochenco, Filipa A.L.S. Silva, João Meneses, Inês C. Gonçalves, Fernão D. Magalhães, Artur M. Pinto*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Using a one-step thermal reduction and non-covalent chemical functionalization process, PEGylated reduced nanographene oxide (rGOn-PEG) was produced from nanographene oxide (GOn) and characterized in terms of particle size, dispersion stability, chemistry, and photothermal properties, in view of its use for photothermal therapy (PTT) of non-melanoma skin cancer. GOn infrared spectrum presented more intense bands assigned to oxygen containing functional groups than observed for rGOn-PEG. GOn C/O ratio decreased more than 50% comparing with rGOn-PEG and nitrogen was present in the latter (N at % = 20.6) due to introduction of PEG-NH2. Thermogravimetric analysis allowed estimating the amount of PEG in rGOn-PEG to be of about 56.1%. Simultaneous reduction and PEGylation increased the lateral dimensions from 287 ± 139 nm to 521 ± 397 nm, as observed by transmission electron microscopy and dynamic light scattering. rGOn-PEG exhibited ≈ 13-fold higher absorbance in the near-infrared radiation (NIR) region, as compared to unmodified GOn. Low power (150 mW cm-2) NIR irradiation using LEDs resulted in rGOn-PEG heating up to 47 °C, which is within the mild PTT temperature range. PEGylation strongly enhanced the dispersibility of rGOn in physiological media (phosphate buffered saline, fetal bovine serum, and cell culture medium) and also improved the biocompatibility of rGOn-PEG, in comparison to GOn (25-250 μg mL-1). After a single NIR LED irradiation treatment of 30 min, a decrease of ≈38% in A-431 cells viability was observed for rGOn-PEG (250 μg mL-1). Together, our results demonstrate the potential of irradiating rGOn-PEG using lower energy, cheaper, smaller, and safer LEDs, as alternative to high power lasers, for NIR mild hyperthermia therapy of cancer, namely non-melanoma skin cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1840
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Graphene
  • Light emitting diode
  • Phototherapy
  • Polyethylene glycol
  • Thermal reduction


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