Theranostics 2020; 10(17):7671-7682. doi:10.7150/thno.45079

Research Paper

ZnS@ZIF-8 core-shell nanoparticles incorporated with ICG and TPZ to enable H2S-amplified synergistic therapy

Chao Fang1*, Dong Cen2*, Yifan Wang2, Yongjun Wu1, Xiujun Cai2, Xiang Li1,3✉, Gaorong Han1

1. State Key Laboratory of Silicon Materials, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, P.R. China.
2. Key Laboratory of Endoscopic Technique Research of Zhejiang Province, Sir Run Shaw Hospital, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310016, P. R. China.
3. Hangzhou Global Scientific and Technological Innovation Center, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, P.R. China.
*Authors with equal contribution.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Fang C, Cen D, Wang Y, Wu Y, Cai X, Li X, Han G. ZnS@ZIF-8 core-shell nanoparticles incorporated with ICG and TPZ to enable H2S-amplified synergistic therapy. Theranostics 2020; 10(17):7671-7682. doi:10.7150/thno.45079. Available from

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Abnormal tumor microenvironment, such as hypoxia, interstitial hypertension and low pH, leads to unexpected resistance for current tumor treatment. The development of versatile drug delivery systems which present responsive characteristics to tumor microenvironment (TME) has been extensively carried out, but remains challenging. In this study, zeolitic imidazolate framework-8 (ZIF-8) coated ZnS nanoparticles have been designed and prepared for co-delivery of ICG/TPZ molecules, denoted as ZSZIT, for H2S-amplified synergistic therapy.

Methods: The ZSZ nanoparticles were characterized using SEM, TEM and XRD. The in vitro viabilities of cancer cells cultured with ZSZIT under normoxia/hypoxia conditions were evaluated by cell counting kit-8 (CCK-8) assay. In addition, in vivo anti-tumor effect was also performed using male Balb/c nude mice as animal model.

Results: ZSZIT shows cascade PDT and hypoxia-activated chemotherapeutic effect under an 808nm NIR irradiation. Meanwhile, ZSZIT degrades under tumor acidic environment, and H2S produced by ZnS cores could inhibit the expression of catalase, which subsequently favors the hypoxia and antitumor effect of TPZ drug. Both in vitro and in vivo studies demonstrate the H2S-sensitized synergistic antitumor effect based on cascade PDT/chemotherapy.

Conclusion: This cascade H2S-sensitized synergistic nanoplatform has enabled more effective and lasting anticancer treatment.

Keywords: hydrogen sulfide, core-shell nanoparticles, indocyanine green, tirapazamine, synergistic therapy