Albumin-coated single-core iron oxide nanoparticles for enhanced molecular magnetic imaging (MRI/MPI)
Colloidal stability of magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (MNP) in physiological environments is crucial for their (bio)medical application. MNP are potential contrast agents for different imaging modalities such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic particle imaging (MPI). Applied as a hybrid method (MRI/MPI), these are valuable tools for molecular imaging. Continuously synthesized and in-situ stabilized single-core MNP were further modified by albumin coating. Synthesizing and coating of MNP were carried out in aqueous media without using any organic solvent in a simple procedure. The additional steric stabilization with the biocompatible protein, namely bovine serum albumin (BSA), led to potential contrast agents suitable for multimodal (MRI/MPI) imaging. The colloidal stability of BSA-coated MNP was investigated in different sodium chloride concentrations (50 to 150 mM) in short- and long-term incubation (from two hours to one week) using physiochemical characterization techniques such as transmission electron microscopy (TEM) for core size and differential centrifugal sedimentation (DCS) for hydrodynamic size. Magnetic characterization such as magnetic particle spectroscopy (MPS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) measurements confirmed the successful surface modification as well as exceptional colloidal stability of the relatively large single-core MNP. For comparison, two commercially available MNP systems were investigated, MNP-clusters, the former liver contrast agent (Resovist), and single-core MNP (SHP-30) manufactured by thermal decomposition. The tailored core size, colloidal stability in a physiological environment, and magnetic performance of our MNP indicate their ability to be used as molecular magnetic contrast agents for MPI and MRI.