On the use of superparamagnetic hydroxyapatite nanoparticles as an agent for magnetic and nuclear in vivo imaging

Acta Biomater. 2018 Jun:73:458-469. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2018.04.040. Epub 2018 Apr 22.


The identification of alternative biocompatible magnetic NPs for advanced clinical application is becoming an important need due to raising concerns about iron accumulation in soft issues associated to the administration of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (NPs). Here, we report on the performance of previously synthetized iron-doped hydroxyapatite (FeHA) NPs as contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The MRI contrast abilities of FeHA and Endorem® (dextran coated iron oxide NPs) were assessed by 1H nuclear magnetic resonance relaxometry and their performance in healthy mice was monitored by a 7 Tesla scanner. FeHA applied a higher contrast enhancement, and had a longer endurance in the liver with respect to Endorem® at iron equality. Additionally, a proof of concept of FeHA use as scintigraphy imaging agent for positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) was given labeling FeHA with 99mTc-MDP by a straightforward surface functionalization process. Scintigraphy/x-ray fused imaging and ex vivo studies confirmed its dominant accumulation in the liver, and secondarily in other organs of the mononuclear phagocyte system. FeHA efficiency as MRI-T2 and PET-SPECT imaging agent combined to its already reported intrinsic biocompatibility qualifies it as a promising material for innovative nanomedical applications.

Statement of significance: The ability of iron-doped hydroxyapatite nanoaprticles (FeHA) to work in vivo as imaging agents for magnetic resonance (MR) and nuclear imaging is demonstrated. FeHA applied an higher MR contrast in the liver, spleen and kidneys of mice with respect to Endorem®. The successful radiolabeling of FeHA allowed for scintigraphy/X-ray and ex vivo biodistribution studies, confirming MR results and envisioning FeHA application for dual-imaging.

Keywords: Liver imaging; Magnetic hydroxyapatite nanoparticles; SPECT/MRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Contrast Media
  • Dextrans / chemistry
  • Durapatite / chemistry*
  • Ferric Compounds / chemistry*
  • Iron / chemistry
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / cytology
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Magnetics*
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nanotechnology
  • Phagocytes / cytology
  • Spleen / diagnostic imaging
  • Thermogravimetry
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Contrast Media
  • Dextrans
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles
  • ferric oxide
  • Durapatite
  • Iron
  • ferumoxides