Versatile fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based mesoporous silica nanoparticles for real-time monitoring of drug release

Jinping Lai, Birju P. Shah, Eric Garfunkel, Ki Bum Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


We describe the development of a versatile fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based real-time monitoring system, consisting of (a) coumarin-labeled-cysteine tethered mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) as the drug carrier, (b) a fluorescein isothiocyanate-β-cyclodextrin (FITC-β-CD) as redox-responsive molecular valve blocking the pores, and (c) a FRET donor-acceptor pair of coumarin and FITC integrated within the pore-unlocking event, thereby allowing for monitoring the release of drugs from the pores in real-time. Under nonreducing conditions, when the disulfide bond is intact, the close proximity between coumarin and FITC on the surface of MSNs results in FRET from coumarin to FITC. However, in the presence of the redox stimuli like glutathione (GSH), the disulfide bond is cleaved which leads to the removal of molecular valve (FITC-β-CD), thus triggering drug release and eliminating FRET. By engineering such a FRET-active donor-acceptor structure within the redox-responsive molecular valve, we can monitor the release of the drugs entrapped within the pores of the MSN nanocarrier, following the change in the FRET signal. We have demonstrated that, any exogenous or endogenous change in the GSH concentration will result in a change in the extent of drug release as well as a concurrent change in the FRET signal, allowing us to extend the applications of our FRET-based MSNs for monitoring the release of any type of drug molecule in real-time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2741-2750
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 26 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


  • drug delivery
  • fluorescence resonance energy transfer
  • mesoporous silica nanoparticle (MSN)-based drug delivery
  • real-time monitoring
  • stimuli-responsive

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