Pyroptosis, a newly characterized form of immunogenic cell death, is attracting increasing attention as a promising approach to cancer immunotherapy. However, biocompatible strategies to activate pyroptosis remain rare. Here, we show that a photocatalytic superoxide radical (O2-•) generator, NI-TA, triggers pyroptosis in cancer cells. NI-TA was designed to take advantage of an intramolecular triplet-ground state splitting energy modulation approach. Detailed studies revealed that the pyroptosis triggered by NI-TA under conditions of photoexcitation proceeds through a caspase-3/gasdermin E (GSDME) pathway rather than via canonical processes involving caspase-1/gasdermin-D (GSDMD). NI-TA was found to function via a partial-O2-recycling mode of action and to trigger cell pyroptosis and provide for effective cancer cell ablation even under conditions of hypoxia (≤2% O2). In the case of T47D 3D multicellular spheroids, good antitumor efficiency and stemness inhibition are achieved. This work highlights how photocatalytic chemistry may be leveraged to develop effective pyroptosis-inducing agents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry