Gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) are a potential x-ray computed tomography (CT) contrast agent. A biocompatible and bioinactive surface is necessary for application of gold nanoparticle to CT imaging. Polyethylene glycol (PEG)-attached dendrimers have been used as a drug carrier with long blood circulation. In this study, the Au NPs were grown in the PEGylated dendrimer to produce a CT contrast agent. The Au NPs were grown by adding gold ions and ascorbic acid at various equivalents to the Au NP-encapsulated dendrimer solution. Both size and surface plasmon absorption of the grown Au NPs increased with adding a large number of gold ions. The x-ray attenuation of the Au NPs also increased after the seeded growth. The Au NPs grown in the PEG-attached dendrimer at the maximum under our conditions exhibited a similar CT value to a commercial iodine agent, iopamidol, in vitro. The Au NP-loaded PEGylated dendrimer and iopamidol were injected into mice and CT images were obtained at different times. The Au NP-loaded PEGylated dendrimer achieved a blood pool imaging, which was greater than a commercial iodine agent. Even though iopamidol was excreted rapidly, the PEGylated dendrimer loading the grown Au NP was accumulated in the liver.
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