Iron oxide nanoparticles for targeted cancer imaging and diagnostics

Nanomedicine. 2012 Apr;8(3):275-90. doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2011.08.017. Epub 2011 Sep 17.


Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) have proven to be highly effective contrast agents for the magnetic resonance imaging diagnosis of solid tumors. This review examines the various techniques that are available to selectively target SPIONs toward a wide variety of cancerous tissues, with specific attention given to how the surface properties imparted by various targeting ligands affect the particles tissue distribution and pharmacokinetics. An in-depth examination of the various human cell lines utilized to test the assorted targeting methods is also presented, as well as an overview of the various types of cancer against which each targeting method has been utilized for both in vivo and in vitro studies. From the Clinical Editor: Functionalized superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) are very potent negative contrast materials for magnetic resonance imaging-based diagnosis. This comprehensive review examines techniques that selectively target SPIONs toward a wide variety of malignancies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Ferric Compounds / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Nanomedicine*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Permeability


  • Ferric Compounds
  • ferric oxide