Cellular uptake of electron paramagnetic resonance imaging probes through endocytosis of liposomes.
- PubMed: 19712666
Electron paramagnetic resonance imaging (EPRI) allows detection and localization of paramagnetic spin probes in vivo and in real time. We have shown that nitroxide spin probes entrapped in the intracellular milieu can be imaged by EPRI. Therefore, with the development of a tumor-targetable vehicle that can efficiently deliver nitroxides into cells, it should be possible to use nitroxide spin probes to label and image cells in a tumor. In this study, we assess the potential of liposomes as a delivery vehicle for imaging probes. We demonstrate that liposomes can stably encapsulate nitroxides at very high concentrations (>100 mM), at which nitroxides exhibit concentration-dependent quenching of their EPR signal-a process analogous to the quenching of fluorescent molecules. The encapsulating liposomes thus appear spectroscopically "dark". When the liposomes are endocytosed and degraded by cells, the encapsulated nitroxides are liberated and diluted into the much larger intracellular volume. The consequent relief of quenching generates a robust intracellular nitroxide signal that can be imaged. We show that through endocytosis of nitroxide-loaded liposomes, CV1 cells can achieve intracellular nitroxide concentrations of approximately 1 mM. By using tissue phantom models, we verify that this concentration is more than sufficient for in vivo EPR imaging.