Noninvasive Imaging of Liposomal Delivery of Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles to Orthotopic Human Breast Tumor in Mice

Yoshinori Kato, Wenlian Zhu, Marina V. Backer, Christopher C. Neoh, Sudath Hapuarachchige, Susanta K. Sarkar, Joseph M. Backer, Dmitri Artemov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is widely used for diagnostic imaging in preclinical studies and in clinical settings. Considering the intrinsic low sensitivity and poor specificity of standard MRI contrast agents, the enhanced delivery of MRI tracers into tumors is an important challenge to be addressed. This study was intended to investigate whether delivery of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) can be enhanced by liposomal SPION formulations for either "passive" delivery into tumor via the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect or "active" targeted delivery to tumor endothelium via the receptors for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGFRs). Methods: In vivo MRI of orthotopic MDA-MB-231 tumors was performed on a preclinical 9.4 T MRI scanner following intravenous administration of either free/non-targeted or targeted liposomal SPIONs. Results: In vivo MRI study revealed that only the non-targeted liposomal formulation provided a statistically significant accumulation of SPIONs in the tumor at four hours post-injection. The EPR effect contributes to improved accumulation of liposomal SPIONs in tumors compared to the presumably more transient retention during the targeting of the tumor vasculature via VEGFRs. Conclusions: A non-targeted liposomal formulation of SPIONs could be the optimal option for MRI detection of breast tumors and for the development of therapeutic liposomes for MRI-guided therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3746-3755
Number of pages10
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • liposomes
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • passive targeting
  • single-chain vascular endothelial growth factor (scVEGF)
  • superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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