A novel approach for non‐invasive lung imaging and targeting lung immune cells

Amlan Chakraborty, Simon G. Royce, Cordelia Selomulya, Magdalena Plebanski

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Despite developments in pulmonary radiotherapy, radiation‐induced lung toxicity remains a problem. More sensitive lung imaging able to increase the accuracy of diagnosis and radiotherapy may help reduce this problem. Super‐paramagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles are used in imaging, but without further modification can cause unwanted toxicity and inflammation. Complex carbohydrate and polymer‐based coatings have been used, but simpler compounds may provide additional benefits. Herein, we designed and generated super‐paramagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles coated with the neutral natural dietary amino acid glycine (GSPIONs), to support non‐invasive lung imaging and determined particle biodistribution, as well as understanding the impact of the interaction of these nanoparticles with lung immune cells. These GSPIONs were characterized to be crystalline, colloidally stable, with a size of 12 ± 5 nm and a hydrodynamic diameter of 84.19 ± 18 nm. Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen (CHN) elemental analysis estimated approximately 20.2 × 103 glycine molecules present per nanoparticle. We demonstrated that it is possible to determine the biodistribution of the GSPIONs in the lung using three‐dimensional (3D) ultra‐short echo time magnetic resonance imaging. The GSPIONs were found to be taken up selectively by alveolar macrophages and neutrophils in the lung. In addition, the GSPIONs did not cause changes to airway resistance or induce inflammatory cytokines. Alveolar macrophages and neutrophils are critical regulators of pulmonary inflammatory diseases, including allergies, infections, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Therefore, pulmonary Magnetic Resonance (MR) imaging and preferential targeting of these lung resident cells by our nanoparticles offer precise imaging tools, which can be utilized to develop precision targeted radiotherapy as well as diagnostic tools for lung cancer, thereby having the potential to reduce the pulmonary complications of radiation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1613
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Cellular uptake
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Nanoparticles
  • Pulmonary delivery
  • Theranostic

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