Engineering Crystallinity Gradients for Tailored CaO2 Nanostructures: Enabling Alkalinity-Reinforced Anticancer Activity with Minimized Ca2+/H2O2 Production

Yiru Shi, Zan Dai, Yue Wang, Jiangqi Luo, Larry Cai, Jie Tang, Chengzhong Yu, Yannan Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


CaO2 nanoparticles (CNPs) can produce toxic Ca2+ and H2O2 under acidic pH, which accounts for their intrinsic anticancer activity but at the same time raises safety concerns upon systemic exposure. Simultaneously realizing minimized Ca2+/H2O2 production and enhanced anticancer activity poses a dilemma. Herein, we introduce a “crystallinity gradient-based selective etching” (CGSE) strategy, which is realized by creating a crystallinity gradient in a CNP formed by self-assembled nanocrystals. The nanocrystals distributed in the outer layer have a higher crystallinity and thus are chemically more robust than those distributed in the inner layer, which can be selectively etched. CGSE not only leads to CNPs with tailored single- and double-shell hollow structures and metal-doped compositions but more surprisingly enables significantly enhanced anticancer activity as well as tumor growth inhibition under limited Ca2+/H2O2 production, which is attributed to an alkalinity-reinforced lysosome-dependent cell death pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10657-10666
Number of pages10
JournalNano Letters
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2023


  • alkalinity
  • calcium peroxide
  • lysosomal membrane permeabilization
  • selective etching

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