Gold nanoshells (AuNSs) are currently being investigated as nanocarriers for drug delivery systems and have both diagnostic and therapeutic applications, including photothermal ablation, hyperthermia, drug delivery, and diagnostic imaging, particularly in oncology. AuNSs are valuable for their localized surface plasmon resonance, biocompatibility, low immunogenicity, and facile functionalization. AuNSs used for drug delivery can be spatially and temporally triggered to release controlled quantities of drugs inside the target cells when illuminated with a near-infrared (NIR) laser. Recently, many research groups have demonstrated that these AuNS complexes are able to deliver antitumor drugs (e.g., doxorubicin, paclitaxel, small interfering RNA, and single-stranded DNA) into cancer cells, which enhances the efficacy of treatment. AuNSs can also be functionalized with active targeting ligands such as antibodies, aptamers, and peptides to increase the particles’ specific binding to the desired targets. This article reviews the current research on NIR light-activatable AuNSs used as nanocarriers for drug delivery systems and cancer theranostics.
drug delivery; gold nanoshells; nanocarrier; theranostics; triggered release
The VX2 rabbit model of liver cancer is commonly used to evaluate the efficacy of locoregional anticancer therapy and knowledge of the hepatic arterial anatomy in the rabbit is important for catheter-directed experiments.
To describe the normal anatomy and anatomic variations of the celiac axis and hepatic artery in the rabbit.
Material and Methods
Angiograms of 222 rabbits were retrospectively reviewed. The branching pattern of the celiac axis was classified and the diameters of the major branches were measured. Paired t-tests were used to compare the difference between the average sizes of arteries.
Variant celiac axis or hepatic artery anatomy was noted in 25.9% of angiograms, with the gastric branches arising from the proper hepatic artery in 23.3% of cases. The celiac axis could be successfully classified into one of five distinct branching patterns in 193 (86.9%) cases. The mean diameters of the right and left hepatic arteries were 0.67 mm (95% CI [0.64, 0.7]) and 1.25 mm (95% CI [1.19, 1.31]), respectively. The mean diameters of the medial and lateral branches of the left hepatic artery were 0.63 mm (95% CI [0.6, 0.67]) and 0.91 mm (95% CI [0.86, 0.96]), respectively. The right hepatic artery was significantly smaller than the left hepatic artery and the lateral branch of the left hepatic artery (all p-values <0.0001).
Arterial variants in the rabbit are not uncommon. The proper hepatic artery often gives origin to gastric artery branches. To facilitate superselective intra-arterial intervention, the left lateral lobe of the liver should be targeted for tumor implantation because of the significant size difference between the right and left hepatic arteries.
rabbit; liver angiography; arterial variants; VX2 tumor; liver-directed therapy
Doxorubicin-loaded hollow nanoshells (Dox@PEG-HAuNS) increases the efficacy of photothermal ablation (PTA) by not only mediating efficient PTA but also through chemotherapy, and therefore have potential utility for local anticancer therapy. However, in vivo real-time monitoring of Dox release and temperature achieved during the laser ablation technique has not been previously demonstrated before. In this study, we used fluorescence optical imaging to map the release of Dox from Dox@PEG-HAuNS and photoacoustic imaging to monitor the tumor temperature achieved during near-infrared laser–induced photothermal heating in vitro and in vivo. In vitro, treatment with a 3-W laser was sufficient to initiate the release of Dox from Dox@PEG-HAuNS (1:3:1 wt/wt, 1.32×1012 particles/mL). Laser powers of 3 and 6 W achieved ablative temperatures of more than 50 °C. In 4T1 tumor–bearing nude mice that received intratumoral or intravenous injections of Dox@PEG-HAuNS, fluorescence optical imaging (emission wavelength = 600 nm, excitation wavelength = 500 nm) revealed that the fluorescence intensity in surface laser–treated tumors 24 h after treatment was significantly higher than that in untreated tumors (p=0.015 for intratumoral, p=0.008 for intravenous). Similar results were obtained using an interstitial laser to irradiate tumors following the intravenous injection of Dox@PEG-HAuNS (p=0.002 at t=24h). Photoacoustic imaging (acquisition wavelength = 800 nm) revealed that laser treatment caused a substantial increase in tumor temperature, from 37 °C to ablative temperatures of more than 50 °C. Ex vivo analysis revealed that the fluorescence intensity of laser-treated tumors was twice as high as that of untreated tumors (p=0.009). Histological analysis confirmed that intratumoral injection of Dox@PEG-HAuNS and laser treatment caused significantly more tumor necrosis compared to tumors that were not treated with laser (p<0.001). On the basis of these findings, we conclude that fluorescence optical imaging and photoacoustic imaging are promising approaches to assessing Dox release and monitoring temperature, respectively, after Dox@PEG-HAuNS–mediated thermal ablation therapy.
targeted hollow gold nanoshells; magnetic resonance temperature imaging; photoacoustic imaging; near-infrared optical imaging; molecular imaging
Advances in nanotechnology for oncology will arise from an increased understanding of the interaction between nanomaterials and biological systems; refinement of multifunctional nanocomposites for applications such as simultaneous imaging and therapy (theranostics); and harnessing of the unique physicochemical properties arising from nanoscale effects which distinguish them from small-molecular-weight molecules in the detection and destruction of cancer cells with high selectivity and efficiency. The major challenges in successful clinical translation of tumor specific nanoparticle delivery include overcoming various biological barriers and demonstrating enhanced therapeutic efficacy over the current standard of care in the clinic. For many nanoparticle mediated theranostic applications, image guidance can play a crucial role not only in exploiting the cancer specific imaging capabilities of these novel particles, but in planning, targeting, monitoring and verifying treatment delivery, thus enhancing the safety and efficacy of these emerging procedures.
nanoparticles; targeting; barriers; photothermal ablation therapy
Although polymeric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) agents have significantly improved relaxivity and prolonged circulation time in vivo compared with current imaging agents, the potential for long-term toxicity prevents their translation into the clinic. The aim of this study was to develop a new biodegradable, nonionic polymeric blood pool MRI contrast agent with efficient clearance from the body. We synthesized PHPG-DTPA, which possesses two potentially degradable sites in vivo: protein amide bonds of the polymer backbone susceptible to enzymatic degradation and hydrolytically labile ester bonds in the side chains. After chelation with Gd3+, PHPG-DTPA-Gd displayed an R1 relaxivity of 15.72 mM−1 · sec −1 (3.7 times higher than that of MagnevistT). In vitro, DTPA was completely released from PHPG polymer within 48 h when incubated in mouse plasma. In vivo, PHPG-DTPA-Gd was cleared via renal route as shown by micro-single photon computed tomography of mice after intravenous injection of 111In-labeled PHPG-DTPA-Gd. MRI of nude rats bearing C6 glioblastoma showed significant enhancement of the tumor periphery after intravenous injection of PHPG-DTPA-Gd. Furthermore, mouse brain angiography was clearly delineated up to 2 h after injection of PHPG-DTPA-Gd. PHPG-DTPA-Gd’s biodegradability, efficient clearance, and significantly increased relaxivity make it a promising polymeric blood pool MRI contrast agent.
Hyperthermia, which is heating of the tumors above 43 °C for about 30 min, has been known to modulate vascular permeability for enhanced chemotherapy. However, it is not clear whether similar effects exists when temperature at tumor sites is elevated above 43 °C, such as temperature achieved in laser-induced photothermal ablation (PTA) therapy. Also, the effect of timing of chemotherapeutic drug administration following heating in the efficiency of drug delivery is not established. In this study, we investigated the impact of near infrared (NIR) laser irradiated anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody C225-conjugated hollow gold nanospheres (C225-HAuNS)on vascular permeability and subsequent tumor uptake of a water-soluble polymer using combined MRI, ultrasound and optical imaging approaches. Magnetic temperature imaging showed a maximum temperature of 65.2 ± 0.10 °C in A431 tumor xenograft of mice treated with C225-HAuNS plus laser and 47.0 ± 0.33 °C in tumors of mice treated with saline plus laser at 4W/cm2 for 3 min (control) at 2 mm from the light incident surface. Dynamic contrast enhanced (DCE) MRI demonstrated greater than 2-fold increase of DTPA-Gd in the initial area under the curve (IAUC90) in mice injected with C225-HAuNS and exposed to NIR laser compared with control mice at 3 min after laser treatment. Similarly, Power Doppler (PD) ultrasound revealed a 4- to 6-fold increase in percentage vascularization in mice treated with C225-HAuNS plus NIR laser compared to control mice and confirmed increased vascular perfusion immediately after laser treatment. Twenty-four hours later, the blood perfusion was shut down. On optical imaging, tumor uptake of PG-Gd-NIR813, which is the model polymeric drug used, was significantly higher (p-value < 0.05) in mice injected with PG-Gd-NIR813 at 5 min after laser treatment than in mice injected with PG-Gd-NIR813 at 24 h after laser treatment and the saline-treated mice. In conclusion, laser irradiation of tumors after intravenous injection of C255-HAuNS induces a thermally mediated modulation of the vascular perfusion, which enhances the delivery of polymeric drugs to the tumors at the time phototherapy is initiated.
targeted hollow gold nanoshells; magnetic resonance temperature imaging; ultrasonography; near-infrared optical imaging; molecular imaging
Nanomaterials that interact with light provide a unique opportunity for biophotonic nanomedicine. Multifunctional nanoparticles (NPs) that have strong and tunable surface plasmon resonance absorption in the near-infrared region combined with visibility with multiple imaging modalities (magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear imaging, and photoacoustic imaging) have great potential in image-guided therapies. These novel nanostructures, once introduced, are expected to home to solid tumors via the enhanced permeability and retention effect (a passive targeting mechanism) or via targeting ligands bound to their surfaces (an active targeting mechanism). The primary mode of action for photothermal conducting NPs is to convert photoenergy into heat, causing temperature in the treatment volume to be elevated above the thermal damage threshold, which results in irreversible cell killing. It is now recognized that this process, termed photothermal ablation therapy or PTA, although very effective, is unlikely to kill all tumor cells when used alone. In addition to PTA, photothermal conducting NPs can also efficiently trigger drug release and activate RNA interference. Such a multimodal approach, which permits simultaneous PTA therapy, chemotherapy, and therapeutic RNA interference, should provide an opportunity for complete eradication of residual disease.
In this Account, we provide an up-to-date review of the synthesis and characterization, functionalization, and in vitro and in vivo evaluation of NIR light-activatable multifunctional nanostructures used for imaging and therapy, with an emphasis on hollow gold nanospheres, magnetic core–shell gold nanoshells, and semiconductor copper monosulfide NPs. We discuss three types novel drug delivery systems in which hollow gold nanospheres are used to mediate controlled drug release.
Theranostics; hollow gold nanospheres; copper sulfide nanoparticles; near-infrared; drug delivery
Advancements in nanotechnology have made it possible to create multifunctional nanostructures that can be used simultaneously to image and treat cancers. For example, hollow gold nanospheres (HAuNS) have been shown to generate intense photoacoustic signals and induce efficient photothermal ablation (PTA) therapy. In this study, we used photoacoustic tomography (PAT), a hybrid imaging modality, to assess the intravenous delivery of HAuNS targeted to integrins that are overexpressed in both glioma and angiogenic blood vessels in a mouse model of glioma. Mice were then treated with near-infrared laser, which elevated tumor temperature by 20.7 °C. We found that PTA treatment significantly prolonged the survival of tumor-bearing mice. Taken together, these results demonstrate the feasibility of using a single nanostructure for image-guided local tumor PTA therapy using photoacoustic molecular imaging.
Image-guided thermal ablation of tumors is becoming a more widely accepted minimally invasive alternative to surgery for patients who are not good surgical candidates, such as patients with advanced head and neck cancer. In this study, multifunctional superparamagnetic iron oxide coated with gold nanoshell (SPIO@Au NS) that have both optical and magnetic properties was conjugated with the targeting agent, C225 monoclonal antibody, against epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). C225-SPIO@Au NS have an average a diameter of 82±4.4 nm, contain 142±15 antibodies per nanoshell, have an absorption peak in the near infrared (~800 nm), and have transverse relaxivity (r2) of 193 and 353 mM−1s−1 versus Feridex of 171 and 300 mM−1s−1, using 1.5T and 7T MR scanners, respectively. Specific targeting of the synthesized C225-SPIO@Au NS was tested in vitro using A431 cells and oral cancer cells, FaDu, OSC-19, and HN5, all of which overexpress EGFR. Selective binding was achieved using C225-SPIO@Au NS but not with the non-targeting PEG-SPIO@Au NS and blocking group (excess of C225 + C225-SPIO@Au NS). In vivo biodistribution on mice bearing A431 tumors also showed selective targeting of C225-SPIO@Au NS compared with the non-targeting and blocking groups. The selective photothermal ablation of the nanoshells shows that without laser treatment there were no cell death and among the groups that were treated with laser at a power of 36 W/cm2 for 3 minutes, only the cells treated with C225-SPIO@Au NS had cell killing (p < 0.001). In summary, successful synthesis and characterization of targeted C225-SPIO@Au NS demonstrating both superparamagnetic and optical properties has been achieved. We have shown both in vitro and in vivo that these nanoshells are MR-active and can be selectively heated up for simultaneous imaging and photothermal ablation therapy.
Theranostics; Gold nanoshells; Magnetic resonance imaging; Laser ablation; Ultrasmall paramagnetic iron oxide (SPIO)
To investigate the multifunctional imaging and therapeutic capabilities of core-shell nanoparticles composed of a superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) core and a gold shell (SPIO@AuNS).
Materials and Methods
The magnetic/optical properties of SPIO@AuNS were examined both in an agar gel phantom and in vivo by evaluating contrast-enhanced MRI and by measuring near-infrared (NIR) light-induced temperature changes mediated by SPIO@AuNS. In addition, the biodistribution and pharmacokinetics of 111In-labeled SPIO@AuNS after intravenous injection in mice bearing A431 tumors were evaluated in the presence and absence of an external magnet.
In agar phantoms containing SPIO@AuNS, a significant contrast enhancement in T2-weighted MRI was observed and a linear increase in temperature was observed with increasing concentration and laser output power when irradiated with NIR light centered at an 808-nm. In vivo, T2*-MRI delineated SPIO@AuNS and magnetic resonance temperature imaging of the same tumors revealed significant temperature elevations when intratumorally injected with SPIO@AuNS (1 × 1011 particles/mouse) and irradiated with NIR light (65.70 ± 0.69°C vs. 44.23 ± 0.24°C for saline + laser). Biodistribution studies in mice intravenously injected with 111In-labeled-SPIO@AuNS(1 × 1013 particles/mouse) had an approximately 2-fold increase in SPIO@AuNS delivered into tumors in the presence of an external magnet compared to tumors without the magnet.
Owing to its ability to mediate efficient photothermal ablation of cancer cells under MRI guidance, as well as the ability to be directed to solid tumors with an external magnetic field gradient, multifunctional SPIO@AuNS is a promising theranostic nano-platform.
theranostics; gold nanoshells; T2* magnetic resonance imaging; photothermal ablation; ultrasmall paramagnetic iron oxide
Modern polymer chemistry has led to the generation of a number of biocompatible synthetic polymers have been increasingly studied as efficient carriers for drugs and imaging agents. Synthetic biocompatible polymers have been used to improve the efficacy of both small-molecular-weight therapeutics and imaging agents. Furthermore, multiple targeted anticancer agents and/or imaging reporters can be attached to a single polymer chain, allowing multifunctional and/or multimodality therapy and molecular imaging. Having both an anticancer drug and an imaging reporter in a single polymer chain allows noninvasive real-time visualization of the pharmacokinetics of polymeric drug delivery systems, which can uncover and explain the complicated mechanisms of in vivo drug delivery and their correlation to pharmacodynamics. This review examines use of the synthetic biocompatible polymer poly(L-glutamic acid) (PG) as an efficient carrier of cancer therapeutics and imaging agents. This review will summarize and update our recent research on use of PG as a platform for drug delivery and molecular imaging, including recent clinical findings with respect to PG-paclitaxel (PG-TXL); the combination of PG-TXL with radiotherapy; mechanisms of action of PG-TXL; and noninvasive visualization of in vivo delivery of polymeric conjugates with contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), optical imaging, and multimodality imaging.
Poly(L-glutamic acid); PG-paclitaxel; polymers; anticancer drugs; macromolecular contrast agents
We synthesized and evaluated a novel class of chelator-free [64Cu]-CuS nanoparticles (NPs) suitable for both PET imaging and as photothermal coupling agents for photothermal ablation. [64Cu]-CuS NPs were simple to make, possessed excellent stability, and allowed robust noninvasive micro-PET imaging. Furthermore, CuS NPs displayed strong absorption in the near-infrared (NIR) region (peak 930 nm), passive targeting prefers the tumor site, and mediated ablation of U87 tumor cells upon exposure to NIR light both in vitro and in vivo after either intratumoral or intravenous injection. The combination of small diameter (~11 nm diameter), strong NIR absorption, and integration of 64Cu as a structural component makes [64Cu]-CuS NPs ideally suited for multifunctional molecular imaging and therapy.
Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are diverse population containing multiple subtypes. M2 macrophages promote tumor growth and metastasis, in part by secreting a wide range of proangiogenic factors and growth factors. Selective depletion of M2 macrophages has been evaluated as a novel approach to anti-cancer therapy. In this study, a dual magneto-optical imaging probe, PG-Gd-NIR813 was synthesized and evaluated for noninvasive assessment of TAMs after intravenous injection. PG-Gd-NIR813 injected in nude rats bearing C6 tumors showed high uptake of the polymeric contrast agent in the tumor at 1 and 48 h after injection both in vivo and ex vivo optical imaging. T1-weighted MR imaging results showed accumulation of PG-Gd-NIR813 into the tumor necrotic area, which was confirmed by TUNEL staining of resected tumors. The uptake of PG-Gd-NIR813 within tumor necrosis decreased after animals were treated by the macrophage depleting agent. Immunohistochemical staining demonstrated that PG-Gd-NIR813 colocalized with CD68 (marker for macrophages) and CD169 (marker for activated macrophages), but not with CD163 (residential macrophages). Using combined near-infrared fluorescence imaging and MRI, we demonstrated that the accumulation of PG-Gd-NIR813 in tumors was mediated through M2 TAMs. Therefore, poly(L-glutamic acid) based reagents could be potentially used to image response to antitumor therapies targeted at M2 TAMs. Furthermore, poly(L-glutamic acid) is a promising carrier for candidate immunotherapeutics targeting M2 TAMs.
Nanoparticles with gold shell and iron core have unique optical and magnetic properties which can be utilized for simultaneous detection and treatment strategies. Several nanoparticles have been synthesized and shown to mediate a variety of potential applications in biomedicine, including cancer molecular optical and magnetic resonance imaging, controlled drug delivery, and photothermal ablation therapy. However, to be effective, these nanoparticles must be delivered efficiently into their targets. In this review, we will provide an updated summary of the gold-shelled magnetic nanoparticles that have been synthesized, methods for characterization, and their potential for cancer diagnosis and treatment. We will also discuss the biological barriers that need to be overcome for the effective delivery of these nanoparticles. The desired nanoparticle characteristics needed to evade these biological barriers were also explained. Hopefully, this review will help researchers in designing nanoparticles by carefully choosing the optimum size, shape, surface charge, and surface coating.
To evaluate the effectiveness of a dual magnetic resonance-near infrared fluorescence optical imaging agent, poly(L-glutamic acid)-DTPA-Gd-NIR813, for both preoperative and intraoperative visualization and characterization of sentinel lymph nodes (SLN) in mice.
Materials and Methods
Poly(L-glutamic acid) was conjugated with DTPA-Gd and NIR813 dye to obtain PG-DTPA-Gd-NIR813. To confirm drainage into the SLNs, this agent was injected subcutaneously into the front paw of nude mice followed by isosulfan blue (n = 6). Furthermore, PG-DTPA-Gd-NIR813 was injected subcutaneously at doses of 0.002 mmol Gd/kg (4.8 nmol eq. NIR813) and 0.02 mmol Gd/kg (48 nmol eq. NIR813) (n = 3/dose). To differentiate metastatic from non-metastatic lymph nodes, nude mice bearing human oral squamous cell carcinoma (DM14) were injected intralingually with 0.02 mmol Gd/kg PG-DTPA-Gd-NIR813 (n=3). Pre- and post-contrast images were taken using 4.7T Bruker MRI scanner and Xenogen optical imaging system. The status of lymph nodes resected under the guidance of optical imaging was confirmed by histologic examinations.
PG-DTPA-Gd-NIR813 co-localized with isosulfan blue, indicating drainage to the SLN. After subcutaneous injection, axiliary and branchial lymph nodes were clearly visualized with both T1-weighted MR and optical imaging within 3 min of contrast injection, even at the lowest dose tested (0.002 mmol Gd/kg). After intralingual injection in tumor-bearing mice, MR imaging identified 4 of the 6 superficial cervical lymph nodes, whereas NIRF optical imaging identified all 6 cervical nodes. The pattern of contrast enhancement of SLN visualized in MR images showed a characteristic ring-shaped appearance with a central filling defect, possibly resulting from nodal infiltration of metastatic lesions. Histopathologic examination of the SLNs resected under NIRF imaging guidance revealed micrometastases in all 6 SLNs identified by NIRF imaging.
The dual modality imaging method demonstrated in this study represents an effective technique for localization and characterization of SLN.
To develop an L-PG-based imaging probe suitable for assessing the degradation of L-PG in vivo.
Conjugates of L-PG and a near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) dye, NIR813, were characterized with regard to quenching efficiency and degradability by cathepsin B (CB) and other proteases. The kinetics of L-PG-NIR813’s degradation and its degradation in orthotopic human U87/TGL glioma in nude mice after intravenous injection was assessed using NIRF optical imaging (n = 3).
The fluorescence signal from L-PG-NIR813 was efficiently quenched and activated at NIR813 loadings of 8–10%. Upon exposure to CB, the fluorescence intensity of L-PG-NIR813 increased 10-fold. L-PG-NIR813 was also degraded by another cysteine protease cathepsin L, but not by MMP-2, cathepsin E, cathepsin D, and plasmin. A selective CB inhibitor blocked the fluorescence activation. After intravenous injection, the degradation of L-PG-NIR813 was visualized primarily in the liver, which peaked at 4 h postinjection. Activation of L-PG-NIR813 but not D-PG-NIR813 was clearly seen in U87/TGL tumors.
Our results indicate that L-PG-NIR813 may be used to monitor the in vivo degradation of L-PG-based polymeric drugs, and that this agent may prove useful in noninvasive imaging of protease activity, particularly that of cysteine proteases.
Biodegradation; Near-infrared optical imaging; Poly(L-glutamic acid); Cathepsin B; Molecular imaging
Laser-induced phototherapy is a new therapeutic use of electromagnetic radiation for cancer treatment. The use of targeted plasmonic gold nanoparticles can reduce the laser energy necessary for selective tumor cell destruction. However, the ability for targeted delivery of the currently used gold nanoparticles to tumor cells is limited. Here, we describe a new class of molecular specific photothermal coupling agents based on hollow gold nanoshells (HAuNS, average diameter ~30 nm) covalently attached to monoclonal antibody directed at epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). The resulting anti-EGFR-HAuNS exhibited excellent colloidal stability and efficient photothermal effect in the near-infrared region. EGFR-mediated, selective uptake of anti-EGFR-HAuNS in EGFR-positive A431 tumor cells but not IgG-HAuNS control was demonstrated in vitro by imaging scattered light from the nanoshells. Irradiation of A431 cells treated with anti-EGFR-HAuNS with near-infrared laser resulted in selective destruction of these cells. In contrast, cells treated with anti-EGFR-HAuNS alone, laser alone, or IgG-HAuNS plus laser did not show observable effect on cell viability. Using 111In-labeled HAuNS, we showed that anti-EGFR-HAuNS could be delivered to EGFR-positive tumors at 6.8% of injected dose per gram of tissue, and the microscopic image of excised tumor with scattering signal from nanoshells confirmed preferential delivery to A431 tumor of anti-EGFR-HAuNS compared with IgG-HAuNS. The absence of silica core, the relatively small particle size and high tumor uptake, and the absence of cytotoxic surfactant required to stabilize other gold nanoparticles suggest that immuno-hollow gold nanoshells have the potential to extend to in vivo molecular therapy.
Photothermal Ablation; Hollow Gold Nanoshells; Epidermal Growth Factor Receptors (EGFR); Monoclonal Antibody; Near-Infrared Laser