Albumin-based nanoparticles as magnetic resonance contrast agents: II. Physicochemical characterisation of purified and standardised nanoparticles

Histochem Cell Biol. 2010 Aug;134(2):171-96. doi: 10.1007/s00418-010-0726-6. Epub 2010 Jul 14.


We are developing a nanoparticulate histochemical reagent designed for histochemistry in living animals (molecular imaging), which should finally be useful in clinical imaging applications. The iterative development procedure employed involves conceptual design of the reagent, synthesis and testing of the reagent, then redesign based on data from the testing; each cycle of testing and development generates a new generation of nanoparticles, and this report describes the synthesis and testing of the third generation. The nanoparticles are based on human serum albumin and the imaging modality selected is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Testing the second particle generation with newly introduced techniques revealed the presence of impurities in the final product, therefore we replaced dialysis with diafiltration. We introduced further testing methods including thin layer chromatography, arsenazo III as chromogenic assay for gadolinium, and several versions of polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, for physicochemical characterisation of the nanoparticles and intermediate synthesis compounds. The high grade of chemical purity achieved by combined application of these methodologies allowed standardised particle sizes to be achieved (low dispersities), and accurate measurement of critical physicochemical parameters influencing particle size and imaging properties. Regression plots confirmed the high purity and standardisation. The good degree of quantitative physicochemical characterisation aided our understanding of the nanoparticles and allowed a conceptual model of them to be prepared. Toxicological screening demonstrated the extremely low toxicity of the particles. The high magnetic resonance relaxivities and enhanced mechanical stability of the particles make them an excellent platform for the further development of MRI molecular imaging.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media / chemistry*
  • Drug Design
  • Drug Stability
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Materials Testing
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Nanoparticles / therapeutic use*
  • Serum Albumin / chemistry
  • Serum Albumin / therapeutic use*


  • Contrast Media
  • Serum Albumin