Gold Nanoshell-Mediated Remote Myotube Activation

Attilio Marino*, Satoshi Arai, Yanyan Hou, Andrea Degl'Innocenti, Valentina Cappello, Barbara Mazzolai, Young Tae Chang, Virgilio Mattoli, Madoka Suzuki, Gianni Ciofani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


Mild heat stimulation of muscle cells within the physiological range represents an intriguing approach for the modulation of their functions. In this work, photothermal conversion was exploited to remotely stimulate striated muscle cells by using gold nanoshells (NSs) in combination with near-infrared (NIR) radiation. Temperature increments of approximately 5 °C were recorded by using an intracellular fluorescent molecular thermometer and were demonstrated to efficiently induce myotube contraction. The mechanism at the base of this phenomenon was thoroughly investigated and was observed to be a Ca2+-independent event directly involving actin-myosin interactions. Finally, chronic remote photothermal stimulations significantly increased the mRNA transcription of genes encoding heat shock proteins and sirtuin 1, a protein which in turn can induce mitochondrial biogenesis. Overall, we provide evidence that remote NIR + NS muscle excitation represents an effective wireless stimulation technique with great potential in the fields of muscle tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and bionics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2494-2505
Number of pages12
JournalACS Nano
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Mar 28


  • C2C12 myotubes
  • calcium imaging
  • cell heating
  • intracellular thermometry
  • near-infrared radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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