Europium (Eu)-doped fluorapatite (FA) nanorods have a biocompatibility similar to that of hydroxyapatite (HA) for use as cell imaging biomaterials due to their luminescent property. Here, we discuss the new application of europium-doped fluorapatite (Eu-FA) nanorods as an anticancer drug carrier. The Eu-FA nanorods were prepared by using a hydrothermal method. The morphology, crystal structure, fluorescence, and composition were investigated. The specific crystal structure enables the effective loading of drug molecules. Doxorubicin (DOX), which was used as a model anticancer drug, effectively loaded onto the surface of the nanorods. The DOX release was pH-dependent and occurred more rapidly at pH 5.5 than at pH 7.4. The intracellular penetration of the DOX-loaded Eu-FA nanorods (Eu-FA/DOX) can be imaged in situ due to the self-fluorescence property. Treatment of melanoma A375 cells with Eu-FA/DOX elicited a more effective apoptosis rate than direct DOX treatment. Overall, Eu-FA exhibits potential for tracking and treating tumors and may be potentially useful as a multifunctional carrier system to effectively load and sustainably deliver drugs.
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