pH-responsive pHLIP (pH low insertion peptide) nanoclusters of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles as a tumor-selective MRI contrast agent
Yushuang Wei, Rufang Liao, Abdulrahman Ahmed Mahmood, Haibo Xu, Qibing Zhou
Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION) are contrast agents used for noninvasive tumor magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). SPION with active targeting by tumor-specific ligands can effectively enhance the MRI sensitivity and specificity of tumors. However, the challenge remains when the tumor specific markers are yet to be determined, especially in the case of early tumor detection. In this study, the effectiveness of pH-responsive SPION via a pH low insertion peptide (pHLIP) to target tumor acidic microenvironments was investigated. Polylysine polymers were first successfully modified with pHLIP to have the pH-responsive capability. SPION pHLIP nanoclusters of 64, 82, 103, and 121 nm size were then assembled by the pH-responsive polymers in a size-controlled manner. The pH-responsive SPION nanoclusters of the 64 nm size exhibited the most effective pH-responsive retention in cells and tumor selective imaging in MRI. More importantly, the unique contrast enhancement of tumor inner core by the pH-responsive SPION in three different tumor models demonstrated the clinical potential to target tumor acidic microenvironment through pHLIP for tumor early detection and diagnosis by MRI.
Circular dichroism, Secondary structure, Polymers, Chemical stability, Vesicle interactions, Biochemistry, Materials