Gold nanoparticle based X-ray contrast agent for tumor imaging in mice and dog: a potential nano-platform for computer tomography theranostics

J Biomed Nanotechnol. 2014 Mar;10(3):383-92. doi: 10.1166/jbn.2014.1725.


The goal of our study was to demonstrate the utility of nanocrystalline gold as an X-ray contrast agent for imaging tumor in living subjects. Even though significant progress has been achieved in this area by researchers, clinical translation remains challenging. Here, we investigated biocompatible gum Arabic stabilized gold nanocrystals (GA-AuNPs) as X-ray contrast agent in tumor bearing mice and dog. Single intratumoral injections of GA-AuNP resulted in X-ray contrast change of -26 HU in the tumor region after 1 hour post-injection period. Subsequently, five intratumoral injections were performed in the mice. The change in CT number in tumor region is not progressive; rather it reaches a saturation point after fourth injection. These data suggested that accumulation of GA-AuNP reaches a threshold limit within a short time period (5 h), and is retained in the tumor tissue for the rest of the period of investigation. A pilot study was conducted in a client-owned dog presented with collision tumor of thyroid carcinoma and osteosarcoma. In this study, GA-AuNP was injected intratumorally in dog and a contrast enhancement of 12 deltaHU was observed. The CT images of both mice and dog clearly demonstrated that GA-AuNP was effectively distributed and retained throughout the tumor site. The CT data obtained by the present study would provide the crucial dosimetry information for strategic therapy planning using this construct. Both mice and dog did not show any clinical changes, thereby confirming that GA-AuNP did not induce toxicity and can be explored for future clinical applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Contrast Media*
  • Dogs
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Female
  • Gold*
  • Gum Arabic / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metal Nanoparticles*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Prognosis
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / instrumentation
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / veterinary
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Contrast Media
  • Gold
  • Gum Arabic