In this contribution, we report a strategy to enhance the therapeutic action of the chemotherapeutic Sorafenib (SRB) through its combination with a multifunctional β-cyclodextrin-based polymer able to deliver nitric oxide (NO) and emit green fluorescence upon visible light excitation (PolyCDNO). The basically water-insoluble SRB is effectively encapsulated in the polymeric host (1 mg/mL) up to a concentration of 18 ug/mL. The resulting host-guest supramolecular complex is able to release SRB in sink conditions and to preserve very well the photophysical and photochemical properties of the free PolyCDNO, as demonstrated by the similar values of the NO release and fluorescence emission quantum efficiencies found. The complex PolyCDNO/SRB internalizes in HEP-G2 hepatocarcinoma, MCF-7 breast cancer and ACHN kidney adenocarcinoma cells, localizing in all cases mainly at the cytoplasmic level. Biological experiments have been performed at SRB concentrations below the IC50 and with light doses producing NO at nontoxic concentrations. The results demonstrate exceptional mortality levels for PolyCDNO/SRB upon visible light irradiation in all the different cell lines tested, indicating a clear synergistic action between the chemotherapeutic drug and the NO. These findings can open up exciting avenues to potentiate the anticancer action of SRB and, in principle, to reduce its side effects through its use at low dosages when in combination with the photo-regulated release of NO.
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