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Dendrimer-entrapped gold nanoparticles as potential CT contrast agents for blood pool imaging

Han Wang1, Linfeng Zheng1, Rui Guo23, Chen Peng3, Mingwu Shen2, Xiangyang Shi23* and Guixiang Zhang1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Radiology, First People's Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200080, People's Republic of China

2 College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Donghua University, Shanghai 201620, People's Republic of China

3 State Key Laboratory for Modification of Chemical Fibers and Polymer Materials, Donghua University, Shanghai 201620, People's Republic of China

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:190  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-190

Published: 19 March 2012


The purpose of this study was to evaluate dendrimer-entrapped gold nanoparticles [Au DENPs] as a molecular imaging [MI] probe for computed tomography [CT]. Au DENPs were prepared by complexing AuCl4- ions with amine-terminated generation 5 poly(amidoamine) [G5.NH2] dendrimers. Resulting particles were sized using transmission electron microscopy. Serial dilutions (0.001 to 0.1 M) of either Au DENPs or iohexol were scanned by CT in vitro. Based on these results, Au DENPs were injected into mice, either subcutaneously (10 μL, 0.007 to 0.02 M) or intravenously (300 μL, 0.2 M), after which the mice were imaged by micro-CT or a standard mammography unit. Au DENPs prepared using G5.NH2 dendrimers as templates are quite uniform and have a size range of 2 to 4 nm. At Au concentrations above 0.01 M, the CT value of Au DENPs was higher than that of iohexol. A 10-μL subcutaneous dose of Au DENPs with [Au] ≥ 0.009 M could be detected by micro-CT. The vascular system could be imaged 5 and 20 min after injection of Au DENPs into the tail vein, and the urinary system could be imaged after 60 min. At comparable time points, the vascular system could not be imaged using iohexol, and the urinary system was imaged only indistinctly. Findings from this study suggested that Au DENPs prepared using G5.NH2 dendrimers as templates have good X-ray attenuation and a substantial circulation time. As their abundant surface amine groups have the ability to bind to a range of biological molecules, Au DENPs have the potential to be a useful MI probe for CT.