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1.  Preparation and in vitro evaluation of doxorubicin-loaded Fe3O4 magnetic nanoparticles modified with biocompatible copolymers 
Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles are attractive materials that have been widely used in medicine for drug delivery, diagnostic imaging, and therapeutic applications. In our study, superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles and the anticancer drug, doxorubicin hydrochloride, were encapsulated into poly (D, L-lactic-co-glycolic acid) poly (ethylene glycol) (PLGA-PEG) nanoparticles for local treatment. The magnetic properties conferred by superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles could help to maintain the nanoparticles in the joint with an external magnet.
A series of PLGA:PEG triblock copolymers were synthesized by ring-opening polymerization of D, L-lactide and glycolide with different molecular weights of polyethylene glycol (PEG2000, PEG3000, and PEG4000) as an initiator. The bulk properties of these copolymers were characterized using 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, gel permeation chromatography, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and differential scanning calorimetry. In addition, the resulting particles were characterized by x-ray powder diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, and vibrating sample magnetometry.
The doxorubicin encapsulation amount was reduced for PLGA:PEG2000 and PLGA:PEG3000 triblock copolymers, but increased to a great extent for PLGA:PEG4000 triblock copolymer. This is due to the increased water uptake capacity of the blended triblock copolymer, which encapsulated more doxorubicin molecules into a swollen copolymer matrix. The drug encapsulation efficiency achieved for Fe3O4 magnetic nanoparticles modified with PLGA:PEG2000, PLGA:PEG3000, and PLGA:PEG4000 copolymers was 69.5%, 73%, and 78%, respectively, and the release kinetics were controlled. The in vitro cytotoxicity test showed that the Fe3O4-PLGA:PEG4000 magnetic nanoparticles had no cytotoxicity and were biocompatible.
There is potential for use of these nanoparticles for biomedical application. Future work includes in vivo investigation of the targeting capability and effectiveness of these nanoparticles in the treatment of lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3273983  PMID: 22334781
superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles; triblock copolymer; doxorubicin encapsulation; water uptake; drug encapsulation efficiency
2.  Magnetic characterization of superparamagnetic nanoparticles pulled through model membranes 
To quantitatively compare in-vitro and in vivo membrane transport studies of targeted delivery, one needs characterization of the magnetically-induced mobility of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION). Flux densities, gradients, and nanoparticle properties were measured in order to quantify the magnetic force on the SPION in both an artificial cochlear round window membrane (RWM) model and the guinea pig RWM.
Three-dimensional maps were created for flux density and magnetic gradient produced by a 24-well casing of 4.1 kilo-Gauss neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) disc magnets. The casing was used to pull SPION through a three-layer cell culture RWM model. Similar maps were created for a 4 inch (10.16 cm) cube 48 MGOe NdFeB magnet used to pull polymeric-nanoparticles through the RWM of anesthetized guinea pigs. Other parameters needed to compute magnetic force were nanoparticle and polymer properties, including average radius, density, magnetic susceptibility, and volume fraction of magnetite.
A minimum force of 5.04 × 10-16 N was determined to adequately pull nanoparticles through the in-vitro model. For the guinea pig RWM, the magnetic force on the polymeric nanoparticles was 9.69 × 10-20 N. Electron microscopy confirmed the movement of the particles through both RWM models.
As prospective carriers of therapeutic substances, polymers containing superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles were succesfully pulled through the live RWM. The force required to achieve in vivo transport was significantly lower than that required to pull nanoparticles through the in-vitro RWM model. Indeed very little force was required to accomplish measurable delivery of polymeric-SPION composite nanoparticles across the RWM, suggesting that therapeutic delivery to the inner ear by SPION is feasible.
PMCID: PMC1785374  PMID: 17204157
3.  Enhanced pulsed magneto-motive ultrasound imaging using superparamagnetic nanoclusters 
Nanotechnology  2010;22(4):045502.
Recently, pulsed magneto-motive ultrasound (pMMUS) imaging augmented with ultra-small magnetic nanoparticles has been introduced as a tool capable of imaging events at molecular and cellular levels. The sensitivity of a pMMUS system depends on several parameters, including the size, geometry and magnetic properties of the nanoparticles. Under the same magnetic field, larger magnetic nanostructures experience a stronger magnetic force and produce larger displacement, thus improving the sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of pMMUS imaging. Unfortunately, large magnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles are typically ferromagnetic and thus are very difficult to stabilize against colloidal aggregation. In the current study we demonstrate improvement of pMMUS image quality by using large size superparamagnetic nanoclusters characterized by strong magnetization per particle. Water-soluble magnetic nanoclusters of two sizes (15 and 55 nm average size) were synthesized from 3 nm iron precursors in the presence of citrate capping ligand. The size distribution of synthesized nanoclusters and individual nanoparticles was characterized using dynamic light scattering (DLS) analysis and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Tissue mimicking phantoms containing single nanoparticles and two sizes of nanoclusters were imaged using a custom-built pMMUS imaging system. While the magnetic properties of citrate-coated nanoclusters are identical to those of superparamagnetic nanoparticles, the magneto-motive signal detected from nanoclusters is larger, i.e. the same magnetic field produced larger magnetically induced displacement. Therefore, our study demonstrates that clusters of superparamagnetic nanoparticles result in pMMUS images with higher contrast and SNR.
PMCID: PMC3059156  PMID: 21157009
4.  Enzymatic- and temperature-sensitive controlled release of ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxides (USPIOs) 
Drug and contrast agent delivery systems that achieve controlled release in the presence of enzymatic activity are becoming increasingly important, as enzymatic activity is a hallmark of a wide array of diseases, including cancer and atherosclerosis. Here, we have synthesized clusters of ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxides (USPIOs) that sense enzymatic activity for applications in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). To achieve this goal, we utilize amphiphilic poly(propylene sulfide)-bl-poly(ethylene glycol) (PPS-b-PEG) copolymers, which are known to have excellent properties for smart delivery of drug and siRNA.
Monodisperse PPS polymers were synthesized by anionic ring opening polymerization of propylene sulfide, and were sequentially reacted with commercially available heterobifunctional PEG reagents and then ssDNA sequences to fashion biofunctional PPS-bl-PEG copolymers. They were then combined with hydrophobic 12 nm USPIO cores in the thin-film hydration method to produce ssDNA-displaying USPIO micelles. Micelle populations displaying complementary ssDNA sequences were mixed to induce crosslinking of the USPIO micelles. By design, these crosslinking sequences contained an EcoRV cleavage site. Treatment of the clusters with EcoRV results in a loss of R2 negative contrast in the system. Further, the USPIO clusters demonstrate temperature sensitivity as evidenced by their reversible dispersion at ~75°C and re-clustering following return to room temperature.
This work demonstrates proof of concept of an enzymatically-actuatable and thermoresponsive system for dynamic biosensing applications. The platform exhibits controlled release of nanoparticles leading to changes in magnetic relaxation, enabling detection of enzymatic activity. Further, the presented functionalization scheme extends the scope of potential applications for PPS-b-PEG. Combined with previous findings using this polymer platform that demonstrate controlled drug release in oxidative environments, smart theranostic applications combining drug delivery with imaging of platform localization are within reach. The modular design of these USPIO nanoclusters enables future development of platforms for imaging and drug delivery targeted towards proteolytic activity in tumors and in advanced atherosclerotic plaques.
PMCID: PMC3056743  PMID: 21352596
5.  Development of a lauric acid/albumin hybrid iron oxide nanoparticle system with improved biocompatibility 
The promising potential of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) in various nanomedical applications has been frequently reported. However, although many different synthesis methods, coatings, and functionalization techniques have been described, not many core-shell SPION drug delivery systems are available for clinicians at the moment. Here, bovine serum albumin was adsorbed onto lauric acid-stabilized SPIONs. The agglomeration behavior, zeta potential, and their dependence on the synthesis conditions were characterized with dynamic light scattering. The existence and composition of the core-shell-matrix structure was investigated by transmission electron microscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and zeta potential measurements. We showed that the iron oxide cores form agglomerates in the range of 80 nm. Moreover, despite their remarkably low tendency to aggregate even in a complex media like whole blood, the SPIONs still maintained their magnetic properties and were well attractable with a magnet. The magnetic properties were quantified by vibrating sample magnetometry and a superconducting quantum interference device. Using flow cytometry, we further investigated the effects of the different types of nanoparticle coating on morphology, viability, and DNA integrity of Jurkat cells. We showed that by addition of bovine serum albumin, the toxicity of nanoparticles is greatly reduced. We also investigated the effect of the particles on the growth of primary human endothelial cells to further demonstrate the biocompatibility of the particles. As proof of principle, we showed that the hybrid-coated particles are able to carry payloads of up to 800 μg/mL of the cytostatic drug mitoxantrone while still staying colloidally stable. The drug-loaded system exhibited excellent therapeutic potential in vitro, exceeding that of free mitoxantrone. In conclusion, we have synthesized a biocompatible ferrofluid that shows great potential for clinical application. The synthesis is straightforward and reproducible and thus easily translatable into a good manufacturing practice environment.
PMCID: PMC4211907  PMID: 25364244
iron oxide nanoparticles; drug delivery; protein corona; magnetic drug targeting; colloidal stability
6.  Simulating Magnetic Nanoparticle Behavior in Low-field MRI under Transverse Rotating Fields and Imposed Fluid Flow 
In the presence of alternating-sinusoidal or rotating magnetic fields, magnetic nanoparticles will act to realign their magnetic moment with the applied magnetic field. The realignment is characterized by the nanoparticle’s time constant, τ. As the magnetic field frequency is increased, the nanoparticle’s magnetic moment lags the applied magnetic field at a constant angle for a given frequency, Ω, in rad/s. Associated with this misalignment is a power dissipation that increases the bulk magnetic fluid’s temperature which has been utilized as a method of magnetic nanoparticle hyperthermia, particularly suited for cancer in low-perfusion tissue (e.g., breast) where temperature increases of between 4°C and 7°C above the ambient in vivo temperature cause tumor hyperthermia. This work examines the rise in the magnetic fluid’s temperature in the MRI environment which is characterized by a large DC field, B0. Theoretical analysis and simulation is used to predict the effect of both alternating-sinusoidal and rotating magnetic fields transverse to B0. Results are presented for the expected temperature increase in small tumors (~1 cm radius) over an appropriate range of magnetic fluid concentrations (0.002 to 0.01 solid volume fraction) and nanoparticle radii (1 to 10 nm). The results indicate that significant heating can take place, even in low-field MRI systems where magnetic fluid saturation is not significant, with careful The goal of this work is to examine, by means of analysis and simulation, the concept of interactive fluid magnetization using the dynamic behavior of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticle suspensions in the MRI environment. In addition to the usual magnetic fields associated with MRI, a rotating magnetic field is applied transverse to the main B0 field of the MRI. Additional or modified magnetic fields have been previously proposed for hyperthermia and targeted drug delivery within MRI. Analytical predictions and numerical simulations of the transverse rotating magnetic field in the presence of B0 are investigated to demonstrate the effect of Ω, the rotating field frequency, and the magnetic field amplitude on the fluid suspension magnetization. The transverse magnetization due to the rotating transverse field shows strong dependence on the characteristic time constant of the fluid suspension, τ. The analysis shows that as the rotating field frequency increases so that Ωτ approaches unity, the transverse fluid magnetization vector is significantly non-aligned with the applied rotating field and the magnetization’s magnitude is a strong function of the field frequency. In this frequency range, the fluid’s transverse magnetization is controlled by the applied field which is determined by the operator. The phenomenon, which is due to the physical rotation of the magnetic nanoparticles in the suspension, is demonstrated analytically when the nanoparticles are present in high concentrations (1 to 3% solid volume fractions) more typical of hyperthermia rather than in clinical imaging applications, and in low MRI field strengths (such as open MRI systems), where the magnetic nanoparticles are not magnetically saturated. The effect of imposed Poiseuille flow in a planar channel geometry and changing nanoparticle concentration is examined. The work represents the first known attempt to analyze the dynamic behavior of magnetic nanoparticles in the MRI environment including the effects of the magnetic nanoparticle spin-velocity. It is shown that the magnitude of the transverse magnetization is a strong function of the rotating transverse field frequency. Interactive fluid magnetization effects are predicted due to non-uniform fluid magnetization in planar Poiseuille flow with high nanoparticle concentrations.
PMCID: PMC2901184  PMID: 20625540
Magnetic nanoparticles; MRI; rotating magnetic field; interactive magnetization; magnetic particle imaging
7.  Development and characterization of magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with a cisplatin-bearing polymer coating for targeted drug delivery 
A highly selective and efficient cancer therapy can be achieved using magnetically directed superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) bearing a sufficient amount of the therapeutic agent. In this project, SPIONs with a dextran and cisplatin-bearing hyaluronic acid coating were successfully synthesized as a novel cisplatin drug delivery system. Transmission electron microscopy images as well as X-ray diffraction analysis showed that the individual magnetite particles were around 4.5 nm in size and monocrystalline. The small crystallite sizes led to the superparamagnetic behavior of the particles, which was exemplified in their magnetization curves, acquired using superconducting quantum interference device measurements. Hyaluronic acid was bound to the initially dextran-coated SPIONs by esterification. The resulting amide bond linkage was verified using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The additional polymer layer increased the vehicle size from 22 nm to 56 nm, with a hyaluronic acid to dextran to magnetite weight ratio of 51:29:20. A maximum payload of 330 μg cisplatin/mL nanoparticle suspension was achieved, thus the particle size was further increased to around 77 nm with a zeta potential of −45 mV. No signs of particle precipitation were observed over a period of at least 8 weeks. Analysis of drug-release kinetics using the dialysis tube method revealed that these were driven by inverse ligand substitution and diffusion through the polymer shell as well as enzymatic degradation of hyaluronic acid. The biological activity of the particles was investigated in a nonadherent Jurkat cell line using flow cytometry. Further, cell viability and proliferation was examined in an adherent PC-3 cell line using xCELLigence analysis. Both tests demonstrated that particles without cisplatin were biocompatible with these cells, whereas particles with the drug induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner, with secondary necrosis after prolonged incubation. In conclusion, combination of dextran-coated SPIONs with hyaluronic acid and cisplatin represents a promising approach for magnetic drug targeting in the treatment of cancer.
Video abstract
PMCID: PMC4128796  PMID: 25120363
magnetic drug targeting; superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles; dextran; hyaluronic acid
8.  Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles: magnetic nanoplatforms as drug carriers 
A targeted drug delivery system is the need of the hour. Guiding magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with the help of an external magnetic field to its target is the principle behind the development of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) as novel drug delivery vehicles. SPIONs are small synthetic γ-Fe2O3 (maghemite) or Fe3O4 (magnetite) particles with a core ranging between 10 nm and 100 nm in diameter. These magnetic particles are coated with certain biocompatible polymers, such as dextran or polyethylene glycol, which provide chemical handles for the conjugation of therapeutic agents and also improve their blood distribution profile. The current research on SPIONs is opening up wide horizons for their use as diagnostic agents in magnetic resonance imaging as well as for drug delivery vehicles. Delivery of anticancer drugs by coupling with functionalized SPIONs to their targeted site is one of the most pursued areas of research in the development of cancer treatment strategies. SPIONs have also demonstrated their efficiency as nonviral gene vectors that facilitate the introduction of plasmids into the nucleus at rates multifold those of routinely available standard technologies. SPION-induced hyperthermia has also been utilized for localized killing of cancerous cells. Despite their potential biomedical application, alteration in gene expression profiles, disturbance in iron homeostasis, oxidative stress, and altered cellular responses are some SPION-related toxicological aspects which require due consideration. This review provides a comprehensive understanding of SPIONs with regard to their method of preparation, their utility as drug delivery vehicles, and some concerns which need to be resolved before they can be moved from bench top to bedside.
PMCID: PMC3405876  PMID: 22848170
superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles; SPIONs; targeted delivery; coating; functionalization; targeting ligands; toxicity
9.  New Strategies to Prolong the In Vivo Life Span of Iron-Based Contrast Agents for MRI 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78542.
Superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) and ultra small superparamagnetic iron oxide (USPIO) nanoparticles have been developed as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents. Iron oxide nanoparticles, that become superparamagnetic if the core particle diameter is ~ 30nm or less, present R1 and R2 relaxivities which are much higher than those of conventional paramagnetic gadolinium chelates. Generally, these magnetic particles are coated with biocompatible polymers that prevent the agglomeration of the colloidal suspension and improve their blood distribution profile. In spite of their potential as MRI blood contrast agents, the biomedical application of iron oxide nanoparticles is still limited because of their intravascular half-life of only few hours; such nanoparticles are rapidly cleared from the bloodstream by macrophages of the reticulo-endothelial system (RES). To increase the life span of these MRI contrast agents in the bloodstream we proposed the encapsulation of SPIO nanoparticles in red blood cells (RBCs) through the transient opening of cell membrane pores. We have recently reported results obtained by applying our loading procedure to several SPIO nanoparticles with different chemical physical characteristics such as size and coating agent. In the current investigation we showed that the life span of iron-based contrast agents in the mice bloodstream was prolonged to 12 days after the intravenous injection of murine SPIO-loaded RBCs. Furthermore, we developed an animal model that implicates the pretreatment of animals with clodronate to induce a transient suppression of tissue macrophages, followed by the injection of human SPIO-loaded RBCs which make it possible to encapsulate nanoparticle concentrations (5.3-16.7mM Fe) higher than murine SPIO-loaded RBCs (1.4-3.55mM Fe). The data showed that, when human RBCs are used as more capable SPIO nanoparticle containers combined with a depletion of tissue macrophages, Fe concentration in animal blood is 2-3 times higher than iron concentration obtained by the use of murine SPIO-loaded RBCs.
PMCID: PMC3819506  PMID: 24223101
10.  Preparation and Characterization of a Magnetic and Optical Dual-Modality Molecular Probe 
Nanotechnology  2010;21(17):175704.
Multi-modality imaging probes combine the advantages of individual imaging techniques to yield highly detailed anatomic and molecular information in living organisms. Herein, we report the synthesis and characterization of a dual-modality nanoprobe that couples the magnetic properties of ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (USPIOs) with the near infrared fluorescence of Cy5.5. The fluorophore is encapsulated in a biocompatible shell of silica surrounding the iron oxide core for a final diameter of ~17 nm. This silica-coated iron oxide nanoparticle (SCION) has been analyzed by transmission electron microscopy, dynamic light scattering, and superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID). The particle demonstrates a strong negative surface charge and maintains colloidal stability in the physiological pH range. Magnetic hysteresis analysis confirms superparamagnetic properties that could be manipulated for thermotherapy. The viability of primary human monocytes, T cells, and B cells incubated with particle has been examined in vitro. In vivo analysis of agent leakage into subcutaneous A431 tumors in mice was also conducted. This particle has been designed for diagnostic application with magnetic resonance and fluorescence imaging, and has future potential to serve as a heat-sensitive targeted drug delivery platform.
PMCID: PMC2859998  PMID: 20368682
11.  Gum Arabic-Coated Magnetic Nanoparticles for Potential Application in Simultaneous Magnetic Targeting and Tumor Imaging 
The AAPS Journal  2009;11(4):693-699.
Magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (MNP) coated with gum arabic (GA), a biocompatible phytochemical glycoprotein widely used in the food industry, were successfully synthesized and characterized. GA-coated MNP (GA-MNP) displayed a narrow hydrodynamic particle size distribution averaging about 100 nm; a GA content of 15.6% by dry weight; a saturation magnetization of 93.1 emu/g Fe; and a superparamagnetic behavior essential for most magnetic-mediated applications. The GA coating offers two major benefits: it both enhances colloidal stability and provides reactive functional groups suitable for coupling of bioactive compounds. In vitro results showed that GA-MNP possessed a superior stability upon storage in aqueous media when compared to commercial MNP products currently used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In addition, significant cellular uptake of GA-MNP was evaluated in 9L glioma cells by electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy, fluorescence microscopy, and MRI analyses. Based on these findings, it was hypothesized that GA-MNP might be utilized as a MRI-visible drug carrier in achieving both magnetic tumor targeting and intracellular drug delivery. Indeed, preliminary in vivo investigations validate this clinical potential. MRI visually confirmed the accumulation of GA-MNP at the tumor site following intravenous administration to rats harboring 9L glioma tumors under the application of an external magnetic field. ESR spectroscopy quantitatively revealed a 12-fold increase in GA-MNP accumulation in excised tumors when compared to contralateral normal brain. Overall, the results presented show promise that GA-MNP could potentially be employed to achieve simultaneous tumor imaging and targeted intra-tumoral drug delivery.
PMCID: PMC2782085  PMID: 19842043
brain tumor; drug delivery; gum arabic; magnetic nanoparticle; magnetic targeting
12.  Biodistribution of newly synthesized PHEA-based polymer-coated SPION in Sprague Dawley rats as magnetic resonance contrast agent 
The purpose of this study was to observe the pharmacokinetic behavior of newly synthesized biocompatible polymers based on polyhydroxyethylaspartamide (PHEA) to be used to coat an iron oxide core to make superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION).
Materials and methods
The isotopes [14C] and [59Fe] were used to label the polymer backbone (CLS) and iron oxide core (FLS), respectively. In addition, unradiolabeled cold superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION/ULS) were synthesized to characterize particle size by dynamic light scattering, morphology by transmission electron microscopy, and in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). CLS and FLS were used separately to investigate the behavior of both the synthesized polymer and [Fe] in Sprague Dawley (SD) rats, respectively. Because radioactivity of the isotopes was different by β for CLS and γ for FLS, synthesis of the samples had to be separately prepared.
The mean particle size of the ULS was 66.1 nm, and the biodistribution of CLS concentrations in various organs, in rank order of magnitude, was liver > kidney > small intestine > other. The biodistribution of FLS concentrations was liver > spleen > lung > other. These rank orders show that synthesized SPION mainly accumulates in the liver. The differences in the distribution were caused by the SPION metabolism. Radiolabeled polymer was metabolized by the kidney and excreted mainly in the urine; [59Fe] was recycled for erythrocyte production in the spleen and excreted mainly in the feces. The MR image of the liver after intravenous injection demonstrated that [Fe] effectively accumulated in the liver and exhibited high-contrast enhancement on T2-weighted images.
This newly synthesized, polymer-coated SPION appears to be a promising candidate for use as a liver-targeted, biocompatible iron oxide MR imaging agent.
PMCID: PMC3817023  PMID: 24204138
SPION; radiolabeled; polyhydroxyethylaspartamide; pharmacokinetic; liver
13.  Poly-l-lysine-coated magnetic nanoparticles as intracellular actuators for neural guidance 
It has been proposed in the literature that Fe3O4 magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) could be exploited to enhance or accelerate nerve regeneration and to provide guidance for regenerating axons. MNPs could create mechanical tension that stimulates the growth and elongation of axons. Particles suitable for this purpose should possess (1) high saturation magnetization, (2) a negligible cytotoxic profile, and (3) a high capacity to magnetize mammalian cells. Unfortunately, the materials currently available on the market do not satisfy these criteria; therefore, this work attempts to overcome these deficiencies.
Magnetite particles were synthesized by an oxidative hydrolysis method and characterized based on their external morphology and size distribution (high-resolution transmission electron microscopy [HR-TEM]) as well as their colloidal (Z potential) and magnetic properties (Superconducting QUantum Interference Devices [SQUID]). Cell viability was assessed via Trypan blue dye exclusion assay, cell doubling time, and MTT cell proliferation assay and reactive oxygen species production. Particle uptake was monitored via Prussian blue staining, intracellular iron content quantification via a ferrozine-based assay, and direct visualization by dual-beam (focused ion beam/scanning electron microscopy [FIB/SEM]) analysis. Experiments were performed on human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cell line and primary Schwann cell cultures of the peripheral nervous system.
This paper reports on the synthesis and characterization of polymer-coated magnetic Fe3O4 nanoparticles with an average diameter of 73 ± 6 nm that are designed as magnetic actuators for neural guidance. The cells were able to incorporate quantities of iron up to 2 pg/cell. The intracellular distribution of MNPs obtained by optical and electronic microscopy showed large structures of MNPs crossing the cell membrane into the cytoplasm, thus rendering them suitable for magnetic manipulation by external magnetic fields. Specifically, migration experiments under external magnetic fields confirmed that these MNPs can effectively actuate the cells, thus inducing measurable migration towards predefined directions more effectively than commercial nanoparticles (fluidMAG-ARA supplied by Chemicell). There were no observable toxic effects from MNPs on cell viability for working concentrations of 10 μg/mL (EC25 of 20.8 μg/mL, compared to 12 μg/mL in fluidMAG-ARA). Cell proliferation assays performed with primary cell cultures of the peripheral nervous system confirmed moderate cytotoxicity (EC25 of 10.35 μg/mL).
These results indicate that loading neural cells with the proposed MNPs is likely to be an effective strategy for promoting non-invasive neural regeneration through cell magnetic actuation.
PMCID: PMC3394465  PMID: 22811603
magnetic nanoparticle; actuator; migration; neural regeneration
14.  Magnetic Targeted Delivery of Dexamethasone Acetate across the Round Window Membrane in Guinea Pigs 
Magnetically susceptible PLGA nanoparticles will effectively target the round window membrane (RWM) for delivery of dexamethasone-acetate (Dex-Ac) to the scala tympani.
Targeted delivery of therapeutics to specific tissues can be accomplished using different targeting mechanisms. One technology includes iron oxide nanoparticles, susceptible to external magnetic fields. If a nanocomposite composed of biocompatible polymer (PLGA), magnetite, and Dex-Ac can be pulled into and across the mammalian RWM, drug delivery can be enhanced.
In vitro targeting and release kinetics of PLGA-magnetite-Dex-Ac nanoparticles first were measured using a RWM model. Next, these optimized nanocomposites were targeted to the RWM by filling the niche in anesthetized guinea pigs. A permanent magnet was placed opposite the RWM for 1 hour. Cochlear soft tissues, perilymph, and RWM were harvested after euthanasia and steroid levels were measured using HPLC.
Membrane transport, in vitro, proved optimal targeting using a lower particle magnetite concentration (1 versus 5 or 10 mg/ml). In vivo targeted PLGA-magnetite-Dex-Ac particles had an average size of 482.8 ± 158 nm (DLS) and an average zeta potential −19.9 ± 3.3 mV. In 1 hour, there was significantly increased cochlear targeted delivery of Dex or Dex-Ac, compared with diffusion alone.
Superparamagnetic PLGA-magnetite-Dex-Ac nanoparticles under an external magnetic field (0.26 mT) for 1 hour significantly increased Dex-Ac delivery to the inner ear. The RWM was not completely permeated and also became loaded with nanocomposites, indicating that delivery to the cochlea would continue for weeks by PLGA degradation and passive diffusion.
PMCID: PMC3522431  PMID: 23187928
Dexamethasone acetate; Magnetic targeting; Poly(lactide-co-glycolide); Round window membrane; Sensorineural hearing loss
15.  Synthesis, characterization and in vitro studies of doxorubicin-loaded magnetic nanoparticles grafted to smart copolymers on A549 lung cancer cell line 
The aim of present study was to develop the novel methods for chemical and physical modification of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) with polymers via covalent bonding entrapment. These modified SPIONs were used for encapsulation of anticancer drug doxorubicin.
At first approach silane–grafted magnetic nanoparticles was prepared and used as a template for polymerization of the N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAAm) and methacrylic acid (MAA) via radical polymerization. This temperature/pH-sensitive copolymer was used for preparation of DOX–loaded magnetic nanocomposites. At second approach Vinyltriethoxysilane-grafted magnetic nanoparticles were used as a template to polymerize PNIPAAm-MAA in 1, 4 dioxan and methylene-bis-acrylamide (BIS) was used as a cross-linking agent. Chemical composition and magnetic properties of Dox–loaded magnetic hydrogel nanocomposites were analyzed by FT-IR, XRD, and VSM.
The results demonstrate the feasibility of drug encapsulation of the magnetic nanoparticles with NIPAAm–MAA copolymer via covalent bonding. The key factors for the successful prepardtion of magnetic nanocomposites were the structure of copolymer (linear or cross-linked), concentration of copolymer and concentration of drug. The influence of pH and temperature on the release profile of doxorubicin was examined. The in vitro cytotoxicity test (MTT assay) of both magnetic DOx–loaded nanoparticles was examined. The in vitro tests showed that these systems are no toxicity and are biocompatible.
IC50 of DOx–loaded Fe3O4 nanoparticles on A549 lung cancer cell line showed that systems could be useful in treatment of lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3605180  PMID: 23244711
Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs); Drug loading efficiency; Radical polymerization; N-Isopropylacrylamide-methyl metacrylc acid (NIPAAm-MAA)
16.  Biological impact of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles for magnetic particle imaging of head and neck cancer cells 
As a tomographic imaging technology, magnetic particle imaging (MPI) allows high spatial resolution and sensitivity, and the possibility to create real-time images by determining the spatial distribution of magnetic particles. To ensure a prospective biosafe application of UL-D (University of Luebeck-Dextran coated superparamagnetic nanoparticles), we evaluated the biocompatibility of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs), their impact on biological properties, and their cellular uptake using head and neck squamous cancer cells (HNSCCs).
SPIONs that met specific MPI requirements were synthesized as tracers. Labeling and uptake efficiency were analyzed by hematoxylin and eosin staining and magnetic particle spectrometry. Flow cytometry, 3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assays, and real-time cell analyzer assays were used to investigate apoptosis, proliferation, and the cytokine response of SPION-labeled cells. The production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was determined using a fluorescent dye. Experimental results were compared to the contrast agent Resovist®, a standard agent used in MPI.
UL-D nanoparticles and Resovist particles were taken up in vitro by HNSCCs via unspecific phagocytosis followed by cytosolic accumulation. To evaluate toxicity, flow cytometry analysis was performed; results showed that dose- and time-dependent administration of Resovist induced apoptosis whereas cell viability of UL-D-labeled cells was not altered. We observed decreased cell proliferation in response to increased SPION concentrations. An intracellular production of ROS could not be detected, suggesting that the particles did not cause oxidative stress. Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukins IL-6, IL-8, and IL-1β were measured to distinguish inflammatory responses. Only the primary tumor cell line labeled with >0.5 mM Resovist showed a significant increase in IL-1β secretion.
Our data suggest that UL-D SPIONs are a promising tracer material for use in innovative tumor cell analysis in MPI.
PMCID: PMC4218924  PMID: 25378928
cell labeling; HNSCCs; biomedical imaging; iron oxide nanoparticles; cytotoxicity
17.  Improving the Magnetic Resonance Imaging Contrast and Detection Methods with Engineered Magnetic Nanoparticles 
Theranostics  2012;2(1):86-102.
Engineering and functionalizing magnetic nanoparticles have been an area of the extensive research and development in the biomedical and nanomedicine fields. Because their biocompatibility and toxicity are well investigated and better understood, magnetic nanoparticles, especially iron oxide nanoparticles, are better suited materials as contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and for image-directed delivery of therapeutics. Given tunable magnetic properties and various surface chemistries from the coating materials, most applications of engineered magnetic nanoparticles take advantages of their superb MRI contrast enhancing capability as well as surface functionalities. It has been found that MRI contrast enhancement by magnetic nanoparticles is highly dependent on the composition, size and surface properties as well as the degree of aggregation of the nanoparticles. Therefore, understanding the relationships between these intrinsic parameters and the relaxivities that contribute to MRI contrast can lead to establishing essential guidance that may direct the design of engineered magnetic nanoparticles for theranostics applications. On the other hand, new contrast mechanism and imaging strategy can be developed based on the novel properties of engineered magnetic nanoparticles. This review will focus on discussing the recent findings on some chemical and physical properties of engineered magnetic nanoparticles affecting the relaxivities as well as the impact on MRI contrast. Furthermore, MRI methods for imaging magnetic nanoparticles including several newly developed MRI approaches aiming at improving the detection and quantification of the engineered magnetic nanoparticles are described.
PMCID: PMC3263519  PMID: 22272222
magnetic nanoparticles; engineering; functionalizing; magnetic resonance imaging
18.  The Magnetophoretic Mobility and Superparamagnetism of Core-Shell Iron Oxide Nanoparticles with Dual Targeting and Imaging Functionality 
Biomaterials  2010;31(22):5842-5848.
With the goal to achieve highly efficacious MRI-monitored magnetic targeting, a novel drug carrier with dual nature of superior magnetophoretic mobility and superparamagnetism was synthesized. This carrier was specially designed in a core-shell structure. The core was achieved by utilizing a strategy of self-assembly of oppositely charged ultrafine superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles previously prepared. The final particles were formed by coating such cores with carboxymethyldextran (CMD) polymer. By exclusion of non-magnetic materials from the interior part of the particles, this structure maximized the amount of magnetic material and thus yielded a superior magnetophoretic mobility. Such a strategy avoids the challenge of superparamagnetism loss, which would be caused by cores exceeding a critical domain size. Coating the self-assembled core enables the magnetic carrier to be stable upon usage and storage and to be readily linked with drug molecules for therapeutic applications. In vitro characterization showed that these nanoparticles displayed a 3- to 4-fold enhancement in magnetophoretic mobility, and a markedly improved stability when stored in 50% serum as a comparison of conventional iron oxide-based magnetic nanoparticles. Preliminary in vivo studies revealed that the nanoparticles alsofunction well as a contrast enhancer for MR imaging of brain glioma. This technology could lead to the development of a new paradigm of magnetic carriers that meet with the needs of various clinical applications.
PMCID: PMC2876197  PMID: 20434209
Magnetophoresis; Superparamagnetism; Core-shell structure; MRI; Iron Oxide
19.  Multi-functional Magnetic Nanoparticles for Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Cancer Therapy 
Biomaterials  2010;32(7):1890-1905.
We have developed a multi-layer approach for the synthesis of water-dispersible superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles for hyperthermia, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and drug delivery applications. In this approach, iron oxide core nanoparticles were obtained by precipitation of iron salts in the presence of ammonia and provided β-cyclodextrin and pluronic polymer (F127) coatings. This formulation (F127250) was highly water dispersible which allowed encapsulation of the anti-cancer drug(s) in β-cyclodextrin and pluronic polymer for sustained drug release. The F127250 formulation has exhibited superior hyperthermia effects over time under alternating magnetic field compared to pure magnetic nanoparticles (MNP) and β-cyclodextrin coated nanoparticles (CD200). Additionally, the improved MRI characteristics were also observed for the F127250 formulation in agar gel and in cisplatin resistant ovarian cancer cells (A12780CP) compared to MNP and CD200 formulations. Furthermore, the drug loaded formulation of F127250 exhibited many folds of imaging contrast properties. Due to the internalization capacity of the F127250 formulation, its curcumin loaded formulation (F127250-CUR) exhibited almost equivalent inhibition effects on A2780CP (ovarian), MDA-MB-231 (breast), and PC3 (prostate) cancer cells even though curcumin release was only 40%. The improved therapeutic effects were verified by examining molecular effects using Western blotting and transmission electron microscopic (TEM) studies. F127250-CUR also exhibited haemocompatibility, suggesting a nanochemo-therapuetic agent for cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3021632  PMID: 21167595
Magnetic nanoparticles; multi-layer coating; MRI; drug delivery; hyperthermia
20.  Targeted delivery of tissue plasminogen activator by binding to silica-coated magnetic nanoparticle 
Background and methods
Silica-coated magnetic nanoparticle (SiO2-MNP) prepared by the sol-gel method was studied as a nanocarrier for targeted delivery of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). The nanocarrier consists of a superparamagnetic iron oxide core and an SiO2 shell and is characterized by transmission electron microscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, superconducting quantum interference device, and thermogravimetric analysis. An amine-terminated surface silanizing agent (3-aminopropyltrimethoxysilane) was used to functionalize the SiO2 surface, which provides abundant –NH2 functional groups for conjugating with tPA.
The optimum drug loading is reached when 0.5 mg/mL tPA is conjugated with 5 mg SiO2-MNP where 94% tPA is attached to the carrier with 86% retention of amidolytic activity and full retention of fibrinolytic activity. In vitro biocompatibility determined by lactate dehydrogenase release and cell proliferation indicated that SiO2-MNP does not elicit cytotoxicity. Hematological analysis of blood samples withdrawn from mice after venous administration indicates that tPA-conjugated SiO2-MNP (SiO2-MNP-tPA) did not alter blood component concentrations. After conjugating to SiO2-MNP, tPA showed enhanced storage stability in buffer and operation stability in whole blood up to 9.5 and 2.8-fold, respectively. Effective thrombolysis with SiO2-MNP-tPA under magnetic guidance is demonstrated in an ex vivo thrombolysis model where 34% and 40% reductions in blood clot lysis time were observed compared with runs without magnetic targeting and with free tPA, respectively, using the same drug dosage. Enhanced penetration of SiO2-MNP-tPA into blood clots under magnetic guidance was confirmed from microcomputed tomography analysis.
Biocompatible SiO2-MNP developed in this study will be useful as a magnetic targeting drug carrier to improve clinical thrombolytic therapy.
PMCID: PMC3463402  PMID: 23055726
magnetic nanoparticles; drug delivery; thrombolysis; tissue plasminogen activator; silica
21.  Studying the effect of particle size and coating type on the blood kinetics of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles 
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), one of the most powerful imaging techniques available, usually requires the use of an on-demand designed contrast agent to fully exploit its potential. The blood kinetics of the contrast agent represent an important factor that needs to be considered depending on the objective of the medical examination. For particulate contrast agents, such as superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIOs), the key parameters are particle size and characteristics of the coating material. In this study we analyzed the effect of these two properties independently and systematically on the magnetic behavior and blood half-life of SPIOs.
Eleven different SPIOs were synthesized for this study. In the first set (a), seven carboxydextran (CDX)-coated SPIOs of different sizes (19–86 nm) were obtained by fractionating a broadly size-distributed CDX–SPIO. The second set (b) contained three SPIOs of identical size (50 nm) that were stabilized with different coating materials, polyacrylic acid (PAA), poly-ethylene glycol, and starch. Furthermore, small PAA–SPIOs (20 nm) were synthesized to gain a global insight into the effects of particle size vs coating characteristics. Saturation magnetization and proton relaxivity were determined to represent the magnetic and imaging properties. The blood half-life was analyzed in rats using MRI, time-domain nuclear magnetic resonance, and inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry.
By changing the particle size without modifying any other parameters, the relaxivity r2 increased with increasing mean particle diameter. However, the blood half-life was shorter for larger particles. The effect of the coating material on magnetic properties was less pronounced, but it had a strong influence on blood kinetics depending on the ionic character of the coating material.
In this report we systematically demonstrated that both particle size and coating material influence blood kinetics and magnetic properties of SPIO independently. These data provide key information for the selection of a contrast agent for a defined application and are additionally valuable for other nano areas, such as hyperthermia, drug delivery, and nanotoxicology.
PMCID: PMC3420593  PMID: 22927759
SPIO; relaxivity; blood half-life; MRI
22.  Magnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles: Synthesis and Surface Functionalization Strategies 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2008;3( 11):397-415.
Surface functionalized magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (NPs) are a kind of novel functional materials, which have been widely used in the biotechnology and catalysis. This review focuses on the recent development and various strategies in preparation, structure, and magnetic properties of naked and surface functionalized iron oxide NPs and their corresponding application briefly. In order to implement the practical application, the particles must have combined properties of high magnetic saturation, stability, biocompatibility, and interactive functions at the surface. Moreover, the surface of iron oxide NPs could be modified by organic materials or inorganic materials, such as polymers, biomolecules, silica, metals, etc. The problems and major challenges, along with the directions for the synthesis and surface functionalization of iron oxide NPs, are considered. Finally, some future trends and prospective in these research areas are also discussed.
PMCID: PMC3244954  PMID: 21749733
Magnetic iron oxide NPs; Surface functionalization; Preparation; Application
23.  Ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide (USPIO)-based liposomes as magnetic resonance imaging probes 
Magnetic liposomes (MLs) are phospholipid vesicles that encapsulate magnetic and/or paramagnetic nanoparticles. They are applied as contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MLs have an advantage over free magnetic nanocores, in that various functional groups can be attached to the surface of liposomes for ligand-specific targeting. We have synthesized PEG-coated sterically-stabilized magnetic liposomes (sMLs) containing ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxides (USPIOs) with the aim of generating stable liposomal carriers equipped with a high payload of USPIOs for enhanced MRI contrast.
Regarding iron oxide nanoparticles, we have applied two different commercially available surface-coated USPIOs; sMLs synthesized and loaded with USPIOs were compared in terms of magnetization and colloidal stability. The average diameter size, morphology, phospholipid membrane fluidity, and the iron content of the sMLs were determined by dynamic light scattering (DLS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), fluorescence polarization, and absorption spectroscopy, respectively. A colorimetric assay using potassium thiocyanate (KSCN) was performed to evaluate the encapsulation efficiency (EE%) to express the amount of iron enclosed into a liposome. Subsequently, MRI measurements were carried out in vitro in agarose gel phantoms to evaluate the signal enhancement on T1- and T2-weighted sequences of sMLs. To monitor the biodistribution and the clearance of the particles over time in vivo, sMLs were injected in wild type mice.
DLS revealed a mean particle diameter of sMLs in the range between 100 and 200 nm, as confirmed by TEM. An effective iron oxide loading was achieved just for one type of USPIO, with an EE% between 74% and 92%, depending on the initial Fe concentration (being higher for lower amounts of Fe). MRI measurements demonstrated the applicability of these nanostructures as MRI probes.
Our results show that the development of sMLs is strictly dependent on the physicochemical characteristics of the nanocores. Once established, sMLs can be further modified to enable noninvasive targeted molecular imaging.
PMCID: PMC3357980  PMID: 22661890
magnetic liposomes; fluorescence polarization; biodistribution; MRI contrast agent
24.  Frequency-Dependent Magnetic Susceptibility of Magnetite and Cobalt Ferrite Nanoparticles Embedded in PAA Hydrogel 
Chemically responsive hydrogels with embedded magnetic nanoparticles are of interest for biosensors that magnetically detect chemical changes. A crucial point is the irreversible linkage of nanoparticles to the hydrogel network, preventing loss of nanoparticles upon repeated swelling and shrinking of the gel. Here, acrylic acid monomers are adsorbed onto ferrite nanoparticles, which subsequently participate in polymerization during synthesis of poly(acrylic acid)-based hydrogels (PAA). To demonstrate the fixation of the nanoparticles to the polymer, our original approach is to measure low-field AC magnetic susceptibility spectra in the 0.1 Hz to 1 MHz range. In the hydrogel, the magnetization dynamics of small iron oxide nanoparticles are comparable to those of the particles dispersed in a liquid, due to fast Néel relaxation inside the particles; this renders the ferrogel useful for chemical sensing at frequencies of several kHz. However, ferrogels holding thermally blocked iron oxide or cobalt ferrite nanoparticles show significant decrease of the magnetic susceptibility resulting from a frozen magnetic structure. This confirms that the nanoparticles are unable to rotate thermally inside the hydrogel, in agreement with their irreversible fixation to the polymer network.
PMCID: PMC3676834  PMID: 23673482
ferrohydrogel; hydrogel; ferrogel; poly(acrylic acid); iron oxide; cobalt ferrite; magnetic nanoparticles; magnetic susceptibility; Brownian relaxation; Néel relaxation
25.  Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticle-Based Delivery Systems for Biotherapeutics 
Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticle (SPION)-based carrier systems have many advantages over other nanoparticle-based systems. They are biocompatible, biodegradable, facilely tunable, and superparamagnetic and thus controllable by an external magnetic field. These attributes enable their broad biomedical applications. In particular, magnetically-driven carriers are drawing considerable interest as an emerging therapeutic delivery system because of their superior delivery efficiency.
Area covered
This article reviews the recent advances in use of SPION-based carrier systems to improve the delivery efficiency and target specificity of biotherapeutics. We examine various formulations of SPION-based delivery systems, including SPION micelles, clusters, hydrogels, liposomes, and micro/nanospheres, as well as their specific applications in delivery of biotherapeutics.
Expert opinion
Recently, biotherapeutics including therapeutic cells, proteins and genes have been studied as alternative treatments to various diseases. Despite the advantages of high target specificity and low adverse effects, clinical translation of biotherapeutics has been hindered by the poor stability and low delivery efficiency compared to chemical drugs. Accordingly, biotherapeutic delivery systems that can overcome these limitations are actively pursued. SPION-based materials can be ideal candidates for developing such delivery systems because of their excellent biocompatibility and superparamagnetism that enables long-term accumulation/retention at target sites by utilization of a suitable magnet. In addition, synthesis technologies for production of finely-tuned, homogeneous SPIONs have been well developed, which may promise their rapid clinical translation.
PMCID: PMC4167583  PMID: 23199200
biotherapeutics; magnetic field; penetration; retention/accumulation; superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticle (SPION); targeting

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