Multifunctional graphene oxide/iron oxide nanoparticles for magnetic targeted drug delivery dual magnetic resonance/fluorescence imaging and cancer sensing

PLoS One. 2019 Jun 6;14(6):e0217072. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217072. eCollection 2019.


Graphene Oxide (GO) has recently attracted substantial attention in biomedical field as an effective platform for biological sensing, tissue scaffolds and in vitro fluorescence imaging. However, the targeting modality and the capability of its in vivo detection have not been explored. To enhance the functionality of GO, we combine it with superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (Fe3O4 NPs) serving as a biocompatible magnetic drug delivery addends and magnetic resonance contrast agent for MRI. Synthesized GO-Fe3O4 conjugates have an average size of 260 nm and show low cytotoxicity comparable to that of GO. Fe3O4 nanoparticles provide superparamagnetic properties for magnetic targeted drug delivery allowing simple manipulation by the magnetic field and magnetic resonance imaging with high r2/r1 relaxivity ratios of ~10.7. GO-Fe3O4 retains pH-sensing capabilities of GO used in this work to detect cancer versus healthy environments in vitro and exhibits fluorescence in the visible for bioimaging. As a drug delivery platform GO-Fe3O4 shows successful fluorescence-tracked transport of hydrophobic doxorubicin non-covalently conjugated to GO with substantial loading and 2.5-fold improved efficacy. As a result, we propose GO-Fe3O4 nanoparticles as a novel multifunctional magnetic targeted platform for high efficacy drug delivery traced in vitro by GO fluorescence and in vivo via MRI capable of optical cancer detection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • Graphite / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Optical Imaging*


  • Drug Carriers
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles
  • graphene oxide
  • Graphite

Grant support

This work was supported with INFOR (Initiative for Oncology Research Grant), and TCU Invests in Scholarship grant.