Theranostics 2017; 7(16):3901-3914. doi:10.7150/thno.20190

Research Paper

“One-Pot” Fabrication of Highly Versatile and Biocompatible Poly(vinyl alcohol)-porphyrin-based Nanotheranostics

Yan Luo1, 2*, Hao Wu2*, Caihong Feng5, Kai Xiao7, Xixiao Yang6, Qiangqiang Liu7, Tzu-yin Lin3, Hongyong Zhang3, Jeffrey H. Walton2, 4, Yousif Ajena2, Yide Hu8, Kit S. Lam2, 3✉, Yuanpei Li2✉

1. Department of Oncology, 153 Central Hospital, Zhengzhou 450042, PR China;
2. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California Davis, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA;
3. Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of California Davis, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA;
4. UC Davis NMR Facility, Davis, CA 95616, USA;
5. Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, 100081, PR China;
6. Department of Pharmacy, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou 510515, PR China;
7. National Chengdu Center for Safety Evaluation of Drugs, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, 610041, PR China;
8. Department of Oncology, Second Affiliated Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, 400037, PR China.
* Yan Luo and Hao Wu contributed equally to this study.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Luo Y, Wu H, Feng C, Xiao K, Yang X, Liu Q, Lin Ty, Zhang H, Walton JH, Ajena Y, Hu Y, Lam KS, Li Y. “One-Pot” Fabrication of Highly Versatile and Biocompatible Poly(vinyl alcohol)-porphyrin-based Nanotheranostics. Theranostics 2017; 7(16):3901-3914. doi:10.7150/thno.20190. Available from

File import instruction


Nanoparticle-based theranostic agents have emerged as a new paradigm in nanomedicine field for integration of multimodal imaging and therapeutic functions within a single platform. However, the clinical translation of these agents is severely limited by the complexity of fabrication, long-term toxicity of the materials, and unfavorable biodistributions. Here we report an extremely simple and robust approach to develop highly versatile and biocompatible theranostic poly(vinyl alcohol)-porphyrin nanoparticles (PPNs). Through a “one-pot” fabrication process, including the chelation of metal ions and encapsulation of hydrophobic drugs, monodispersenanoparticle could be formed by self-assembly of a very simple and biocompatible building block (poly(vinyl alcohol)-porphyrin conjugate). Using this approach, we could conveniently produce multifunctional PPNs that integrate optical imaging, positron emission tomography (PET), photodynamic therapy (PDT), photothermal therapy (PTT) and drug delivery functions in one formulation. PPNs exhibited unique architecture-dependent fluorescence self-quenching, as well as photodynamic- and photothermal- properties. Near-infrared fluorescence could be amplified upon PPN dissociation, providing feasibility of low-background fluorescence imaging. Doxorubicin (DOX)-loaded PPNs achieved 53 times longer half-life in blood circulation than free DOX. Upon irradiation by near infrared light at a single excitation wavelength, PPNs could be activated to release reactive oxygen species, heat and drugs simultaneously at the tumor sites in mice bearing tumor xenograft, resulting in complete eradication of tumors. Due to their organic compositions, PPNs showed no obvious cytotoxicity in mice via intravenous administration during therapeutic studies. This highly versatile and multifunctional PPN theranostic nanoplatform showed great potential for the integration of multimodal imaging and therapeutic functions towards personalized nanomedicine against cancers.

Keywords: poly(vinyl alcohol)-porphyrin, “one-pot” fabrication, theranostics, imaging, multimodal therapy.