Photophysical characterization of anticancer drug valrubicin in rHDL nanoparticles and its use as an imaging agent

Sunil Shah, Rahul Chib, Sangram Raut, Jaclyn Bermudez, Nirupama Sabnis, Divya Duggal, Joseph D. Kimball, Andras G. Lacko, Zygmunt Gryczynski, Ignacy Gryczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Nanoparticles are target-specific drug delivery agents that are increasingly used in cancer therapy to enhance bioavailability and to reduce off target toxicity of anti-cancer agents. Valrubicin is an anti-cancer drug, currently approved only for vesicular bladder cancer treatment because of its poor water solubility. On the other hand, valrubicin carrying reconstituted high density lipoprotein (rHDL) nanoparticles appear ideally suited for extended applications, including systemic cancer chemotherapy. We determined selected fluorescence properties of the free (unencapsulated) drug vs. valrubicin incorporated into rHDL nanoparticles. We have found that upon encapsulation into rHDL nanoparticles the quantum yield of valrubicin fluorescence increased six fold while its fluorescence lifetime increased about 2 fold. Accordingly, these and potassium iodide (KI) quenching data suggest that upon incorporation, valrubicin is localized deep in the interior of the nanoparticle, inside the lipid matrix. Fluorescence anisotropy of the rHDL valrubicin nanoparticles was also found to be high along with extended rotational correlation time. The fluorescence of valrubicin could also be utilized to assess its distribution upon delivery to prostate cancer (PC3) cells. Overall the fluorescence properties of the rHDL: valrubicin complex reveal valuable novel characteristics of this drug delivery vehicle that may be particularly applicable when used in systemic (intravenous) therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-65
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology
StatePublished - Feb 2016


  • Cancer
  • Confocal imaging
  • Fluorescence spectroscopy
  • Valrubicin
  • rHDL nanoparticles


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