Background: Engineered inorganic nanoparticles (NPs) are essential components in the development of nanotechnologies. For applications in nanomedicine, particles need to be functionalized to ensure a good dispersibility in biological fluids. In many cases however, functionalization is not sufficient: the particles become either coated by a corona of serum proteins or precipitate out of the solvent. We show that by changing the coating of magnetic iron oxide NPs using poly-l-lysine (PLL) polymer the colloidal stability of the dispersion is improved in aqueous solutions including water, phosphate buffered saline (PBS), PBS with 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS) and cell culture medium, and the internalization of the NPs toward living mammalian cells is profoundly affected.

Methods: A multifunctional magnetic NP is designed to perform a near-infrared (NIR)-responsive remote control photothermal ablation for the treatment of breast cancer. In contrast to the previously reported studies of gold (Au) magnetic (Fe3O4) core-shell NPs, a Janus-like nanostructure is synthesized with Fe3O4 NPs decorated with Au resulting in an approximate size of 60 nm mean diameter. The surface of trisoctahedral Au-Fe3O4 NPs was coated with a positively charged polymer, PLL to deliver the NPs inside cells. The PLL-Au-Fe3O4 NPs were characterized by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), XRD, FT-IR and dynamic light scattering (DLS). The unique properties of both Au surface plasmon resonance and superparamagnetic moment result in a multimodal platform for use as a nanothermal ablator and also as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent, respectively. Taking advantage of the photothermal therapy, PLL-Au-Fe3O4 NPs were incubated with BT-474 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, investigated for the cytotoxicity and intracellular uptake, and remotely triggered by a NIR laser of ~ 808 nm (1 W/cm2 for 10 min).

Results: The PLL coating increased the colloidal stability and robustness of Au-Fe3O4 NPs (PLL-Au-Fe3O4) in biological media including cell culture medium, PBS and PBS with 10% fetal bovine serum. It is revealed that no significant ( < 10%) cytotoxicity was induced by PLL-Au-Fe3O4 NPs itself in BT-474 and MDA-MB-231 cells at concentrations up to 100 µg/ml. Brightfield microscopy, fluorescence microscopy and TEM showed significant uptake of PLL-Au-Fe3O4 NPs by BT-474 and MDA-MB-231 cells. The cells exhibited 40 and 60% inhibition in BT-474 and MDA-MB-231 cell growth, respectively following the internalized NPs were triggered by a photothermal laser using 100 µg/ml PLL-Au-Fe3O4 NPs. The control cells treated with NPs but without laser showed < 10% cell death compared to no laser treatment control.

Conclusion: Combined together, the results demonstrate a new polymer gold superparamagnetic nanostructure that integrates both diagnostics function and photothermal ablation of tumors into a single multimodal nanoplatform exhibiting a significant cancer cell death.



Second Department

Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Breast cancer; Combination treatments; Gold-superparamagnetic nanoparticles; Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); Photothermal treatment; Polymer coating

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Document Type

Article - Journal

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Final Version

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© 2018 The Author(s), All rights reserved.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Publication Date

01 Oct 2018

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Chemistry Commons