Theranostics 2021; 11(13):6407-6426. doi:10.7150/thno.58711


Metal-phenolic networks: facile assembled complexes for cancer theranostics

Wensheng Xie1, Zhenhu Guo2, Lingyun Zhao2✉, Yen Wei1✉

1. The Key Laboratory of Bioorganic Phosphorus Chemistry & Chemical Biology (Ministry of Education), Department of Chemistry, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, P. R. China.
2. State Key Laboratory of New Ceramics and Fine Processing, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China.

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Xie W, Guo Z, Zhao L, Wei Y. Metal-phenolic networks: facile assembled complexes for cancer theranostics. Theranostics 2021; 11(13):6407-6426. doi:10.7150/thno.58711. Available from

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In recent years, metal-phenolic networks (MPNs) have attracted increasing attention for the engineering of multi-functional platforms because of their easy fabrication processes, excellent physicochemical properties, outstanding biocompatibility, and promising theranostic applications. In this review, we summarize recent progress in the design, synthesis, shape-control, biocompatibility evaluation, and potential theranostic applications of MPNs, especially for cancer theranostics. First, we provide an overview of various MPN systems, relevant self-assembly procedures, and shape-controllable preparation. The in vitro and in vivo biocompatibility evaluation of MPNs is also discussed, including co-incubation viability, adhesion, bio-distribution, and inflammation. Finally, we highlight the significant achievements of various MPNs for cancer theranostics, such as tumor imaging, drug delivery, photothermal therapy, radiotherapy, and chemo- and photo-dynamic therapy. This review provides a comprehensive background on the design and controllable synthesis, in vitro and in vivo biocompatibility evaluation, applications of MPNs as cancer theranostic agents, and presents an overview of the most up-to-date achievements in this field.

Keywords: metal-phenolic network, self-assembly, biocompatibility, cancer theranostics, nanoagent