The low vessel density and oxygen concentration in hypoxia are the main causes of reduced efficiency of anticancer therapeutics and can stimulate the tumor's relapse. Research showed that macrophages could cross the blood-vessel barriers and reach the hypoxic regions of tumors. Using macrophages in a drug delivery system has been a promising method for tumor targeting in recent years. In this work, we successfully modified monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and iron-based metal-organic framework (MIL-100(Fe)) on the photothermal agent, gold nanorods (GNRs) (i.e., MCP-1/GNR@MIL-100(Fe)), to increase cellular uptake and biocompatibility. The results of TEM, UV-vis, and FTIR all confirmed that we'd synthesized MCP-1/GNR@MIL-100(Fe) successfully, and the MCP-1/GNR@MIL-100(Fe) also showed good biocompatibility. A transwell migration assay illustrated that our material attracted macrophages, and the material uptake amount was increased by 1.5 times after MCP-1 functionalization. It also indicated that the macrophages have a tumor-targeting ability. In the in vivo experiment, we subcutaneously implanted U251 MG cells in nude mice as a xenograft model to demonstrate the photothermal activity of MCP-1/GNR@MIL-100(Fe). With successive NIR treatment, the tumor growth could be controlled, and the tumor volume still remained below 100 mm3 after laser treatment. MCP-1/GNR@MIL-100(Fe) combined with the laser treatment showed an excellent antitumor efficacy from the histology of tumor tissues, survival rates, and bioluminescence imaging.
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