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Polyethylenimine Nanogels Incorporated with Ultrasmall Iron Oxide Nanoparticles and Doxorubicin for MR Imaging-Guided Chemotherapy of Tumors

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journal contribution
posted on 02.03.2020 by Yu Zou, Du Li, Yue Wang, Zhijun Ouyang, Yucheng Peng, Helena Tomás, Jindong Xia, João Rodrigues, Mingwu Shen, Xiangyang Shi
Development of versatile nanoplatforms for cancer theranostics remains a hot topic in the area of nanomedicine. We report here a general approach to create polyethylenimine (PEI)-based hybrid nanogels (NGs) incorporated with ultrasmall iron oxide (Fe3O4) nanoparticles (NPs) and doxorubicin for T1-weighted MR imaging-guided chemotherapy of tumors. In this study, PEI NGs were first prepared using an inverse emulsion approach along with Michael addition reaction to cross-link the NGs, modified with citric acid-stabilized ultrasmall Fe3O4 NPs through 1-ethyl-3-(3-(dimethylamino)­propyl) carbodiimide hydrochloride (EDC) coupling, and physically loaded with anticancer drug doxorubicin (DOX). The formed hybrid NGs possess good water dispersibility and colloidal stability, excellent DOX loading efficiency (51.4%), pH-dependent release profile of DOX with an accelerated release rate under acidic pH, and much higher r1 relaxivity (2.29 mM–1 s–1) than free ultrasmall Fe3O4 NPs (1.15 mM–1 s–1). In addition, in contrast to the drug-free NGs that possess good cytocompatibility, the DOX-loaded hybrid NGs display appreciable therapeutic activity and can be taken up by cancer cells in vitro. With these properties, the developed hybrid NGs enabled effective inhibition of tumor growth under the guidance of T1-weighted MR imaging. The developed hybrid NGs may be applied as a versatile nanoplatform for MR imaging-guided chemotherapy of tumors.