Folate-targeted gadolinium-lipid-based nanoparticles as a bimodal contrast agent for tumor fluorescent and magnetic resonance imaging

Taro Nakamura, Kumi Kawano, Kouichi Shiraishi, Masayuki Yokoyama, Yoshie Maitani
Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 2014, 37 (4): 521-7
To enhance tumor magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) signals via the selective accumulation of contrast agents, we prepared folate-modified gadolinium-lipid-based nanoparticles as MRI contrast agents. Folate-modified nanoparticles were comprised of polyethylene glycol (PEG)-lipid, gadolinium diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid lipid, cationic cholesterol derivatives, folate-conjugated PEG-lipid, and Cy7-PEG-lipid. Folate receptor-mediated cellular nanoparticle association was examined in KB cells, which overexpress the folate receptor. The biodistribution of nanoparticles after their intravenous injection into KB tumor-bearing mice was measured. Mice were imaged through in vivo fluorescence imaging and MRI 24 h after nanoparticle injection, and the intensity enhancement of the tumor MRI signal was evaluated. Increased cellular association of folate-modified nanoparticles was inhibited by excess free folic acid, indicating that nanoparticle association was folate receptor-mediated. Irrespective of folate modification, the amount of nanoparticles in blood 24 h after injection was ca. 10% of the injected dose. Compared with non-modified nanoparticles, folate-modified nanoparticles exhibited significant accumulation in tumor tissues without altering other biodistribution, as well as enhanced tumor fluorescence and MRI signal intensity. The results support the feasibility of MRI- and in vivo fluorescence imaging-based tumor visualization using folate-modified nanoparticles and provide opportunities to develop folate targeting-based imaging applications.

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