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Development of nanostars as a biocompatible tumor contrast agent: toward in vivo SERS imaging

Authors D'Hollander A, Mathieu E, Jans H, Vande Velde G, Stakenborg T, Van Dorpe P, Himmelreich U, Lagae L

Received 28 June 2015

Accepted for publication 4 March 2016

Published 4 August 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 3703—3714

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S91340

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Zhengjian Lv

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Thomas J Webster


Antoine D’Hollander,1–3 Evelien Mathieu,1,4 Hilde Jans,1 Greetje Vande Velde,2,3 Tim Stakenborg,1 Pol Van Dorpe,1,4 Uwe Himmelreich,2,3 Liesbet Lagae1,4

1Department of Life Science Technology, Imec, 2Department of Imaging and Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Biomedical MRI Unit, 3Faculty of Medicine, Molecular Small Animal Imaging Center (MoSAIC), 4Department of Physics, Faculty of Sciences, Laboratory of Solid State Physics and Magnetism, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

Abstract: The need for sensitive imaging techniques to detect tumor cells is an important issue in cancer diagnosis and therapy. Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), realized by chemisorption of compounds suitable for Raman spectroscopy onto gold nanoparticles, is a new method for detecting a tumor. As a proof of concept, we studied the use of biocompatible gold nanostars as sensitive SERS contrast agents targeting an ovarian cancer cell line (SKOV3). Due to a high intracellular uptake of gold nanostars after 6 hours of exposure, they could be detected and located with SERS. Using these nanostars for passive targeting after systemic injection in a xenograft mouse model, a detectable signal was measured in the tumor and liver in vivo. These signals were confirmed by ex vivo SERS measurements and darkfield microscopy. In this study, we established SERS nanostars as a highly sensitive contrast agent for tumor detection, which opens the potential for their use as a theranostic agent against cancer.

Keywords: SERS, gold nanostars, cancer imaging, Raman active

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