Alterations on HeLa cell actin filaments induced by PEGylated gold nanorod-based plasmonic photothermal therapy

Karla Santacruz-Gomez*, Rodrigo Melendrez, Marlen Licerio-Ramírez, Ana L. Gallego-Hernandez, Martin Pedroza-Montero, Ratnesh Lal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The actin cytoskeleton plays a crucial role in dynamic processes such as cell adhesion and intracellular movement. For cancer cells, both mechanisms are involved in metastasis. Plasmonic photothermal therapy (PPT) is postulated to lessen undesirable damage of both the surrounding healthy cells and tissue. We have examined the actin filaments of HeLa cells treated in vitro with PEGylated gold nanorod (PEGGNR)-based PPT. Our results show that 5 min of PEGGNR-PPT induces irreversible damages on the cytoskeleton network, which initiate with the accumulation of F-actin stress fibers and evolve into cell shrinkage and apoptosis. The PPT mediated by PEGGNRs results in 60.5% of death cells by apoptosis, in which F-actin distribution is significantly accumulated in a reduced area (2.5 times higher than non-treated). Such results suggest that the PEGGNRs could be responsible for compromising the cytoskeleton integrity of HeLa cells while inducing apoptosis. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number38
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by SEP–CONACyT Mexico, Ciencia Basica Grant No. 1901010 (A1-S-28227).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • F-actin
  • HeLa cells
  • PEGylated gold nanorods
  • Plasmonic photothermal therapy


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