Recently, multimodal nanoparticles integrating dual- or tri-imaging modalities into a single hybrid nanosystem have attracted plenty of attention in biomedical research. Here, we report the fabrication of two types of multimodal micelle-encapsulated nanoparticles, which were systematically characterized and thoroughly evaluated in terms of their imaging potential and biocompatibility. Optical and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging probes were integrated by conjugating DOTA-gadolinium (Gd) derivative to quantum dot based nanomicelles. Two amphiphilic block copolymer micelles, amine-terminated mPEG-phospholipid and amine-modified Pluronic F127, were chosen as the capping agents because of their excellent biocompatibility and ability to prevent opsonization and prolong circulation time in vivo. Owing to their different hydrophobic-hydrophilic structure, the micellar aggregates exhibited different sizes and protection of core QDs. This work revealed the differences between these nanomicelles in terms of the stability over a wide range of pH, along with their cytotoxicity and the capacity for chelating gadolinium, thus providing a useful guideline for tailor-making multimodal nanoparticles for specific biomedical applications.
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