Theranostic application of mixed gold and superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticle micelles in glioblastoma multiforme

Lova Sun, Daniel Y. Joh, Ajlan Al-Zaki, Melissa Stangl, Surya Murty, James J. Davis, Brian C. Baumann, Michelle Alonso-Basanta, Gary D. Kao, Andrew Tsourkas, Jay F. Dorsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


The treatment of glioblastoma multiforme, the most prevalent and lethal form of brain cancer in humans, has been limited in part by poor delivery of drugs through the blood-brain barrier and by unclear delineation of the extent of infiltrating tumor margins. Nanoparticles, which selectively accumulate in tumor tissue due to their leaky vasculature and the enhanced permeability and retention effect, have shown promise as both therapeutic and diagnostic agents for brain tumors. In particular, superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) have been leveraged as T2-weighted MRI contrast agents for tumor detection and imaging; and gold nanoparticles (AuNP) have been demonstrated as radiosensitizers capable of propagating electron and free radical-induced radiation damage to tumor cells. In this study, we investigated the potential applications of novel gold and SPION-loaded micelles (GSMs) coated by polyethylene glycol-polycaprolactone (PEG-PCL) polymer. By quantifying gh2ax DNA damage foci in glioblastoma cell lines, we tested the radiosensitizing efficacy of these GSMs, and found that GSM administration in conjunction with radiation therapy (RT) led to ∼2-fold increase in density of double-stranded DNA breaks. For imaging, we used GSMs as a contrast agent for both computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of stereotactically implanted GBM tumors in a mouse model, and found that MRI but not CT was sufficiently sensitive to detect and delineate tumor borders after administration and accumulation of GSMs. These results suggest that with further development and testing, GSMs may potentially be integrated into both imaging and treatment of brain tumors, serving a theranostic purpose as both an MRI-based contrast agent and a radiosensitizer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-356
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biomedical Nanotechnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016


  • Contrast Agent
  • Glioblastoma Multiforme
  • Gold Nanoparticle
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Radiotherapy
  • Superparamagnetic Iron Nanoparticle


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