American Chemical Society
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Fine-Tuned H‑Ferritin Nanocage with Multiple Gold Clusters as Near-Infrared Kidney Specific Targeting Nanoprobe

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journal contribution
posted on 2015-02-18, 00:00 authored by Cuiji Sun, Yi Yuan, Zhonghe Xu, Tianjiao Ji, Yanhua Tian, Shan Wu, Jianlin Lei, Jingyuan Li, Ning Gao, Guangjun Nie
When stabilized and functionalized by biomolecules, noble metal (such as gold and silver) cluster-based hybrid nanocomposites have shown great promise for biomedical applications, due to their unique physiochemical properties originating from the inorganic elements and specific functionality and biocompatibility from their biological components. Although certain promise for bioimaging, biosensing, and biomimetic catalysis has been demonstrated, it is still a great challenge to integrate the defined functionality of the biomolecules with enhanced or novel physiochemical properties of the metal clusters, under control at the molecular level. Herein, based on molecular dynamics simulation of a gold (Au) cluster assembly, we designed near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent hybrid nanocomposites with multiple Au clusters within an apo H-ferritin (HFt) nanocage. The fluorescence quantum yield of near-infrared (NIR) Au-HFt is about 63.4% and the emission peak is 810 nm. The NIR Au-HFt is one of the first native protein-guided Au cluster-based nanomaterials for in vivo biowindow imaging. In vivo fluorescent imaging and quantification of Au element confirmed that Au-HFt not only retained the kidney targeting properties of HFt well (about 10 times higher Au concentration in kidney than in liver and spleen, the most common organs for nanoparticle accumulation), but also gained strong NIR imaging capability for live animals. The NIR Au-HFt showed powerful tissue penetrating ability, strong fluorescent efficiency, and excellent kidney targeting specificity. These results thus open new opportunities for kidney disease imaging and theranostic applications.