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1.  Long-Term In Vivo Imaging of Viscoelastic Properties of the Mouse Brain after Controlled Cortical Impact 
Journal of Neurotrauma  2013;30(17):1512-1520.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) presents a variety of causes and symptoms, thus making the development of reliable diagnostic methods and therapeutic treatments challenging. Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is a technique that allows for a noninvasive assessment of the mechanical properties of soft biological tissue, such as tissue stiffness, storage modulus, and loss modulus. Importantly, by quantifying the changes in the stiffness of tissue that is often associated with disease, MRE is able to detect tissue pathologies at early stages. Recent improvements in instrumentation have allowed for the investigation of small samples with microscopic resolution (μMRE). We hypothesize that μMRE can sensitively detect variations in micromechanical properties in the brain caused by the compressive and shearing forces sustained during TBI. To test this hypothesis, we randomized 13 C57BL mice to receive a controlled cortical impact at a 0.5 mm or 0.75 mm depth, with both sham and naïve mice as controls. Our objective was to propagate mechanical shear waves throughout the brain for in vivo TBI μMRE imaging. The mechanical properties of the injured brain tissue were determined at days 0, 1, 7, and 28 post-injury. For both groups, we observed a significant drop in the stiffness of the impacted region immediately following the injury; the 0.75 mm animals experienced increased tissue softness that lasted longer than that for the 0.5 mm group. Although the shear stiffness, storage modulus, and loss modulus parameters all followed the same trend, the tissue stiffness yielded the most statistically significant results. Overall, this article introduces a transformative technique for mechanically mapping the brain and detecting brain diseases and injury.
PMCID: PMC3751490  PMID: 23534701
inverse problem; MRE; MRI; TBI; viscoelasticity
2.  Near-Infrared Optical Imaging for Monitoring the Regeneration of Osteogenic Tissue-Engineered Constructs 
BioResearch Open Access  2013;2(3):186-191.
Millions of cases of bone injury or loss due to trauma, osteoporosis, and cancer occur in the United States each year. Because bone is limited in its ability to regenerate, alternative therapy approaches are needed. Bone tissue engineering has the potential to correct musculoskeletal disorders through the development of cell-based substitutes for osteogenic tissue replacement. Multiple medical imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance microscopy (MRM) were investigated recently; these techniques are able to provide useful information on the anatomical and structural changes of developing bone. However, there is a need for noninvasive approaches to evaluate biochemical constituents and consequent compositional development associated with growing osteogenic constructs. In this study, near-infrared (NIR) optical imaging with a bone-specific NIR-targeted probe, IRDye® 800CW BoneTag™ (800CW BT), was applied in this study to longitudinally visualize regions of mineralization of tissue-engineered bone constructs in vivo. A fluorescent cell-based assay was performed to confirm the preferential binding of 800CW BT to the mineralized matrix of differentiated osteogenically driven human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) in vitro. The hMSCs were seeded onto a biocompatible gelatin scaffold, allowed to develop, and implanted into a mouse model. Engineered constructs were examined in vivo using NIR imaging for bone mineralization, paired with MRM for verification of developing tissue. Results showed that NIR imaging with 800CW BT labeling can effectively assess the calcification of the developing osteogenic constructs, which is consistent with the analysis of excised tissue using NIR microscopy and histology. In conclusion, this study evaluated bone-like function of regenerating bone through tracking calcium deposition via NIR optical imaging with a fluorophore-labeled probe in a noninvasive manner.
PMCID: PMC3666218  PMID: 23741629
magnetic resonance microscopy; near-infrared imaging; tissue engineering; tissue-engineered bone
3.  Curcumin-loaded magnetic nanoparticles for breast cancer therapeutics and imaging applications 
The next generation magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) with theranostic applications have attracted significant attention and will greatly improve nanomedicine in cancer therapeutics. Such novel MNP formulations must have ultra-low particle size, high inherent magnetic properties, effective imaging, drug targeting, and drug delivery properties. To achieve these characteristic properties, a curcumin-loaded MNP (MNP-CUR) formulation was developed.
MNPs were prepared by chemical precipitation method and loaded with curcumin (CUR) using diffusion method. The physicochemical properties of MNP-CUR were characterized using dynamic light scattering, transmission electron microscopy, and spectroscopy. The internalization of MNP-CUR was achieved after 6 hours incubation with MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. The anticancer potential was evaluated by a tetrazolium-based dye and colony formation assays. Further, to prove MNP-CUR results in superior therapeutic effects over CUR, the mitochondrial membrane potential integrity and reactive oxygen species generation were determined. Magnetic resonance imaging capability and magnetic targeting property were also evaluated.
MNP-CUR exhibited individual particle grain size of ~9 nm and hydrodynamic average aggregative particle size of ~123 nm. Internalized MNP-CUR showed a preferential uptake in MDA-MB-231 cells in a concentration-dependent manner and demonstrated accumulation throughout the cell, which indicates that particles are not attached on the cell surface but internalized through endocytosis. MNP-CUR displayed strong anticancer properties compared to free CUR. MNP-CUR also amplified loss of potential integrity and generation of reactive oxygen species upon treatment compared to free CUR. Furthermore, MNP-CUR exhibited superior magnetic resonance imaging characteristics and significantly increased the targeting capability of CUR.
MNP-CUR exhibits potent anticancer activity along with imaging and magnetic targeting capabilities. This approach can be extended to preclinical and clinical use and may have importance in cancer treatment and cancer imaging in the future. Further, if these nanoparticles can functionalize with antibody/ligands, they will serve as novel platforms for multiple biomedical applications.
PMCID: PMC3356199  PMID: 22619526
magnetic nanoparticles; drug delivery systems; magnetic resonance imaging; nanomedicine; cancer therapeutics; biomedical applications
4.  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

Results 1-4 (4)