© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Advances in surfactant-assisted chemical approaches have led the way for the exploitation of nanoscale inorganic particles in medical diagnosis and treatment. In this field, magnetically-driven multimodal nanotools that perform both detection and therapy, well-designed in size, shape and composition, are highly advantageous. Such a theranostic material—which entails the controlled assembly of smaller (maghemite) nanocrystals in a secondary motif that is highly dispersible in aqueous media—is discussed here. These surface functionalized, pomegranate-like ferrimagnetic nanoclusters (40–85 nm) are made of nanocrystal subunits that show a remarkable magnetic resonance imaging contrast efficiency, which is better than that of the superparamagnetic contrast agent Endorem©. Going beyond this attribute and with their demonstrated low cytotoxicity in hand, we examine the critical interaction of such nanoprobes with cells at different physiological environments. The time-dependent in vivo scintigraphic imaging of mice experimental models, combined with a biodistribution study, revealed the accumulation of nanoclusters in the spleen and liver. Moreover, the in vitro proliferation of spleen cells and cytokine production witnessed a size-selective regulation of immune system cells, inferring that smaller clusters induce mainly inflammatory activities, while larger ones induce anti-inflammatory actions. The preliminary findings corroborate that the modular chemistry of magnetic iron oxide nanoclusters stimulates unexplored pathways that could be driven to alter their function in favor of healthcare.
Kostopoulou, A., Brintakis, K., Fragogeorgi, E., Anthousi, A., Manna, L., Begin-Colin, S., … Lappas, A. (2018). Iron Oxide Colloidal Nanoclusters as Theranostic Vehicles and Their Interactions at the Cellular Level. Nanomaterials, 8(5), 315. https://doi.org/10.3390/nano8050315