In recent years, multifunctional theranostic nanoparticles have been fabricated by integrating imaging and therapeutic moieties into one single nano-formulations. However, Complexity of production and safety issues limits their further application.

Herein, we demonstrated self-assembled nanoparticles with single structure as a “from one to all” theranostic platform for tumor-targeted dual-modal imaging and programmed photoactive therapy (PPAT). The nanoparticles were successfully developed through self-assembling of hyaluronic acid (HA)-cystamine-cholesterol (HSC) conjugate, in which IR780 was simultaneously incorporated (HSCI NPs). Due to the proper hydrodynamic size and intrinsic targeting ability of HA, the HSCI NPs could accumulate at the tumor site effectively after systemic administration. In the presence of incorporated IR780, in vivo biodistribution and accumulation behaviors of HSCI NPs could be monitored by photoacoustic imaging. After cellular uptake, the HSCI NPs would disintegrate resulting from cystamine reacting with over-expressed GSH. The released IR780 would induce fluorescence “turn-on” conversion, which could be used to image tumor sites effectively. Upon treatment with 808 nm laser irradiation, PPAT could be achieved in which generated reactive oxygen species (ROS) would produce photodynamic therapy (PDT), and subsequently the raised temperature would be beneficial to tumor photothermal therapy (PTT).

The self-assembled HSCI NPs could act as “from one to all” theranostic platform for high treatment efficiency via PPAT pattern, which could also real-time monitor NPs accumulation by targeted and dual-modal imaging in a non-invasive way.