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Design of near-infrared fluorescent bioactive conjugated functional iron oxide nanoparticles for optical detection of colon cancer

Authors Corem-Salkmon E, Perlstein B, Shlomo Margel S

Received 9 May 2012

Accepted for publication 21 June 2012

Published 19 October 2012 Volume 2012:7 Pages 5517—5527


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Enav Corem-Salkmon, Benny Perlstein, Shlomo Margel

The Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, Department of Chemistry, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel

Background: Colon cancer is one of the major causes of death in the Western world. Early detection significantly improves long-term survival for patients with the disease. Near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent nanoparticles hold great promise as contrast agents for tumor detection. NIR offers several advantages for bioimaging compared with fluorescence in the visible spectrum, ie, lower autofluorescence of biological tissues, lower absorbance, and consequently deeper penetration into biomatrices.
Methods and results: NIR fluorescent iron oxide nanoparticles with a narrow size distribution were prepared by nucleation, followed by controlled growth of thin iron oxide films onto cyanine NIR dye conjugated gelatin-iron oxide nuclei. For functionalization, and in order to increase the NIR fluorescence intensity, the NIR fluorescent iron oxide nanoparticles obtained were coated with human serum albumin containing cyanine NIR dye. Leakage of the NIR dye from these nanoparticles into phosphate-buffered saline solution containing 4% albumin was not detected. The work presented here is a feasibility study to test the suitability of iron oxide-human serum albumin NIR fluorescent nanoparticles for optical detection of colon cancer. It demonstrates that encapsulation of NIR fluorescent dye within these nanoparticles significantly reduces photobleaching of the dye. Tumor-targeting ligands, peanut agglutinin and anticarcinoembryonic antigen antibodies (αCEA), were covalently conjugated with the NIR fluorescent iron oxide-human serum albumin nanoparticles via a poly(ethylene glycol) spacer. Specific colon tumor detection was demonstrated in chicken embryo and mouse models for both nonconjugated and the peanut agglutinin-conjugated or αCEA-conjugated NIR fluorescent iron oxide-human serum albumin nanoparticles.
Conclusion: Conjugation of peanut agglutinin or αCEA to the nanoparticles significantly increased the fluorescence intensity of the tagged colon tumor tissues relative to the nonconjugated nanoparticles.

Keywords: near-infrared fluorescence, iron oxide nanoparticles, optical imaging, chorioallantoic membrane assay, colon cancer

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