Yonsei Med J.  2021 Nov;62(11):1042-1051. 10.3349/ymj.2021.62.11.1042.

Indocyanine Green-Loaded PLGA Nanoparticles Conjugated with Hyaluronic Acid Improve Target Specificity in Cervical Cancer Tumors

  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, Yonsei University, Wonju, Korea
  • 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine, Wonju, Korea


Indocyanine green (ICG) is a promising agent for intraoperative visualization of tumor tissues and sentinel lymph nodes in early-stage gynecological cancer. However, it has some limitations, including a short half-life and poor solubility in aqueous solutions. This study aimed to enhance the efficacy of near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence imaging by overcoming the shortcomings of ICG using a nano-drug delivery system and improve target specificity in cervical cancer.
Materials and Methods
ICG and poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) conjugated with polyethylenimine (PEI) were assembled to enhance stability. Hyaluronic acid (HA) was coated on PEI-PLGA-ICG nanoparticles to target CD44-positive cancer cells. The manufactured HA-ICG-PLGA nanoparticles (HINPs) were evaluated in vitro and in vivo on cervical cancer cells (SiHa; CD44+) and human dermal cells (ccd986sk; CD44-), respectively, using NIR imaging to compare intracellular uptake and to quantify the fluorescence intensities of cells and tumors.
HINPs were confirmed to have a mean size of 200 nm and a zeta-potential of 33 mV using dynamic light scattering. The stability of the HINPs was confirmed at pH 5.0–8.0. Cytotoxicity assays, intracellular uptake assays, and cervical cancer xenograft models revealed that, compared to free ICG, the HINPs had significantly higher internalization by cervical cancer cells than normal cells (p<0.001) and significantly higher accumulation in tumors (p<0.001) via CD44 receptor-mediated endocytosis.
This study demonstrated the successful application of HINPs as nanocarriers for delivering ICG to CD44-positive cervical cancer, with improved efficacy in NIR fluorescence imaging.


Fluorescence imaging; nanoparticles; cervix; indocyanine green; tumor targeting; cervical cancer
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