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Abstract

Absorption and emission properties of the amphiphilic photosensitizer Chlorin p6 were investigated in aqueous medium in the presence of silica nanoparticles (SiNPs) having positively charged amino groups. The results of these studies reveal that the acid–base ionization equilibrium of Chlorin p6 in aqueous medium is significantly affected as a result of strong electrostatic binding between the negatively charged drug and SiNP. The spectroscopic signature of the drug bound to SiNPs suggests that the tri-anionic form of the drug remains bound to the positively charged SiNPs at pH 8.0. As the pH is progressively decreased the formation of hydrophobic aggregates is disrupted significantly due to the presence of electrostatic binding force, which competes with intermolecular hydrophobic forces. The interplay of hydrophobic and electrostatic forces in the drug–nanoparticle binding process might affect the relative uptake and photodynamic efficacy of the free drug and the drug–nanoparticle complex in cancer cells.