Aggregation-induced emission luminogens for highly effective microwave dynamic therapy

Nil Kanatha Pandey, Wei Xiong, Lingyun Wang*, Wei Chen*, Brian Bui, Jian Yang, Eric Amador, Mingli Chen, Christina Xing, Aseem Atul Athavale, Yaowu Hao, Wirya Feizi, Lloyd Lumata

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


Aggregation-induced emission luminogens (AIEgens) exhibit efficient cytotoxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation capability and unique light-up features in the aggregated state, which have been well explored in image-guided photodynamic therapy (PDT). However, the limited penetration depth of light in tissue severely hinders AIEgens as a candidate for primary or adjunctive therapy for clinical applications. Coincidentally, microwaves (MWs) show a distinct advantage for deeper penetration depth in tissues than light. Herein, for the first time, we report AIEgen-mediated microwave dynamic therapy (MWDT) for cancer treatment. We found that two AIEgens (TPEPy-I and TPEPy-PF6) served as a new type of microwave (MW) sensitizers to produce ROS, including singlet oxygen (1O2), resulting in efficient destructions of cancer cells. The results of 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) and live/dead assays reveal that the two AIEgens when activated by MW irradiation can effectively kill cancer cells with average IC-50 values of 2.73 and 3.22 μM, respectively. Overall, the ability of the two AIEgens to be activated by MW not only overcomes the limitations of conventional PDT, but also helps to improve existing MW ablation therapy by reducing the MW dose required to achieve the same therapeutic outcome, thus reducing the occurrence of side-effects of MW radiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-125
Number of pages14
JournalBioactive Materials
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • AIEgens
  • Cancer treatment
  • Microwave ablation
  • Microwaves
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Singlet oxygen


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