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1. WO2014081322 - SUPERPARAMAGNETIC IRON OXIDE NANOPARTICLES WITH ULTRA-THIN POLYMER LAYERS, THE METHOD OF THEIR PREPARATION AND APPLICATION

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Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with ultra-thin polymer layers, the method of their preparation and application

FIELD OF INVETNION

The invention relates to superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION) with ultra-thin polymer layers made of superparamagnetic cores of iron oxides, co-precipitated with polycation and hydrophilic coatings composed of ultra-thin layers of polyelectrolytes, increasing the biocompatibility and relaxivity of the entire structure in aqueous media.

The invention relates also to, described above, iron oxide nanoparticles, which hydrophilic coating has been functionalized with a fluorescent probe, gadolinium compound, antibodies, aptamers of antibodies or polyelectrolyte layer with fluorinated groups. The invention also provides a method for producing superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles by co-precipitation of nanoparticles with polycation. The invention relates to the use of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles for diagnosis by nuclear magnetic resonance techniques and fluorescence microscopy.

STATE OF THE ART

The contrast agents commonly used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) consist of gadolinium ions complexes (Geraldes 2009), which make the contrast agents toxic and require prompt removal from the body after the examination. The use of these substances can also lead to development of diseases such as nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, especially for patients suffering from acute renal failure. Therefore, other substances that act as contrast agents and are also safe for use in humans and animals, are sought. Superparamagnetic nanoparticles according to the invention provide an alternative to currently used contrast agents. The magnetic properties of these particles allow reducing the minimum dose that is introduced into the patient in order to obtain a similar imaging effect as that obtained in the case of currently used paramagnetic substances.

There are many methods of synthesis of superparamagnetic iron oxide particles (Tartaj 2003, Teja 2009, Laurent 2008, Tartaj 2005), however for biological applications, co-precipitation method from aqueous solutions of iron salts is usually used. The advantages of the method are: simplicity of preparation, high efficiency and easy procedures of the material isolation, then its further modification or transferring into the aqueous phase. A limitation of the available methods is, often occurring, aggregation of obtained nanoparticles. In order to stabilize the resulting structures, the surface of the particles is coated with, inter alia, polymeric or low molecular weight stabilizers (Laurent 2008, Gupta 2005). In addition, the assimilation of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles by the organism or the immune reactions caused by them depends mainly on the nanoparticles size. The particles larger than 200 nm are captured by the spleen, and then removed by the phagocytic cells. However, superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with diameters of less than 10 nm are rapidly removed from the body by the kidneys. These phenomena result in a shortening of the circulation time of nanoparticles in the blood stream.

To overcome the abovementioned obstacles, in the present invention the superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with particle size from 10 nm to 200 nm are administered intravenously. Nanoparticles of this size are characterized by a maximum time of circulation in the blood stream. They are small enough to be disregarded by the phagocytic cells, resulting in their deeper penetration, even to small capillaries that allows achieving an effective distribution of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles in target tissues. Thus, for biomedical applications, it is important to obtain particles with small size and low polydispersity. In addition, contrast media should be biocompatible, preferably biodegradable and selective, i.e., they should be characterized by an ability to bind selectively to specific tissues/cells of the body. Covering of the nanoparticles with suitable materials (coating) increases their biocompatibility, but also allows for the adequate chemical modifications, the connection with selected antibodies etc. to provide the selective placement of the nanoparticles in specific tissues of the body (Laurent 2008).

The contrast agents containing ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles and superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (for example ferumoxides, FeREX or ferumoxtran-10) coated mainly by dextran or its derivatives are known (Geraldes 2009, Laurent 2008). Dextran is a natural, biocompatible polysaccharide having a relatively high molecular weight, usually containing a certain content of branched chain. However, the use of dextran in case of available contrast agents has some disadvantages. In the process of coating many nanoparticles are embedded together inside a single polymer structure that leads to the formation of even micrometer-sized systems with high polydispersity. These particles are more readily taken up by macrophages in the body, what reduces the circulation time of the contrast agents in the blood stream. Furthermore, a large ratio of the polymer weight to the weight of the nanoparticles results in a decreasing of the contrast magnetic properties, making it necessary to increase the effective dose administered to the patient before preparing the diagnostic tests with MRI

technique. The binding of the nanoparticles with a polymer layer is often weak. In the case of dextran, the dilution leads to the polymer desorption from the surface of the nanoparticles, resulting in their aggregation and easier capturing by the immune system (Laurent 2008).

Moreover, dextran coatings are also disadvantageous because of the antidextran antibodies present in the body. Therefore, administration of the dextran-containing contrast agent can induce cytotoxicity (Yuan 2008).

In order to eliminate abovementioned barriers, in present invention dextran is proposed to be replaced by another polysaccharide, namely, chitosan and its derivatives. Chitosan is a non-toxic, biocompatible and biodegradable polymer. It is obtained in the process of deacetylation of chitin, which is found in shells of crabs, shrimp or squid. Chitosan

macromolecules include, similarly to dextran, -OH groups, but also -NH2 groups, which significantly extend the ability of chitosan modification. Unfortunately, chitosan is soluble only in an acidic medium in which the protonation of amino groups occurs. This can be

a significant limitation in the use of non-modified chitosan, for example, under conditions of neutral pH (pH of human blood = 7.4). Chitosan has already been used in the delivery of insulin (Agnihotri 2004). It is also used as a component of bandages and other dressings. Another advantage of chitosan in comparison to other natural polysaccharides is its ability to chelate metal ions, resulting in the formation of stable metal-to-polymer bonding (Y uan 2008).

Therefore, it can be successfully used for stabilization of the superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles and may be a starting point for further selective modification of the coated nanoparticles.

Polymers, such as dextran and chitosan, are in the group of hydrophilic polymers.

Therefore, they constitute a water-permeable material, which, in the context of the present invention, represents a significant advantage. Indeed, the covering of superparamagnetic cores with ultra-thin layers of the chitosan derivatives or heparin, influences on the penetration of water molecules through the coating closer to the cores. In addition, the diffusion of these molecules is slowed down by the coating (Kwak 2003), therefore the contact of the water molecules with superparamagnetic core is longer, and this translates into an improvement in the magnetic properties due to increased transverse relaxivity r2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with ultrathin polymer layers characterized in that they consist of superparamagnetic iron oxide cores co-precipitated with polycation, and a hydrophilic coating consisting of at least one ultrathin layer of a polyelectrolyte.

Preferably, the first ultrathin layer of a polyelectrolyte obtained by co-precipitation of the nanoparticles in the presence of the polymer and subsequent odd layers, deposited on the surface of the obtained nanoparticles, consist of a polycation. Particularly preferably, when the polycation is selected from the group consisting of natural or modified polysaccharides containing positively charged groups, such as ammonium, pyridinium or phosphonium and most preferably, when the polycation is chitosan modified with ammonium groups.

Also preferably, the second ultra-thin layer of the polyelectrolyte and more even layers, are composed of a polyanion. Particularly preferably, when the polyanion is a polymer from the group consisting of natural or modified polysaccharides containing negatively charged functional groups such as sulfonate, sulfate, carboxyl or phosphate, including most preferably, when the polyanion is a polymer constituting an anionic chitosan derivatives or heparine, particularly carboxymethylchitosan modified with sulfur trioxide complex or heparin.

Preferably, the nanoparticles are suspended in the aqueous phase. Also preferably, the nanoparticles are coated with such a number of coatings that their average size is 5-200 nm and/or diameter of iron oxide core is 5-20 nm and/or the thickness of the polymer coating is 0.1-100 nm.

An advantage of the invention is the increasing of biocompatibility and relaxivity of the whole nanoparticle structure in an aqueous medium associated with the occurrence of coating consisting of ultrathin layers of polyelectrolyte s. The polycation layer consisting of chitosan modified with ammonium groups gives the nanoparticles a durable positive charge, and the imposing of another layer of polyelectrolyte gives the nanoparticles a durable negative charge. It influences, inter alia, favorable on the stability of suspensions of nanoparticles in water.

In a preferred embodiment, the superparamagnetic nanoparticles are characterized in that the hydrophilic coating is functionalized by attaching to it a fluorescent probe and/or a gadolinium compound and/or antibodies and/or aptamers of antibodies and/or polyelectrolyte layers having fluorinated groups.

Particularly preferably, the fluorescent probe is selected from the group consisting of: fluorescamine, fluorescein, cyanine, rhodamines, or functionalized quantum dots.

Also preferably, the gadolinium compound is selected from the group consisting of chelate of gadolinium ions with diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTP A) or ethylenediamine-tetraacetic acid (EDTA).

Also preferably, the antibody is selected from the group consisting of monoclonal antibodies against cell adhesion molecules, including, in particular, VCAM-1, against P-selectin or E-selectin.

Also preferably, the aptamers of antibodies are selected from the group consisting of aptamers of monoclonal antibodies against cell adhesion molecules or against P-selectin or E-selectin.

Also preferably, the polyelectrolyte layers having fluorinated groups are poly(N,N-dimethyl-N-4'-vinylbenzyl-N-2-(perfuorooctanoyl-N'-memylimino)ethylammonium chloride)-co-(N,N,N-trimethyl-N-4'-vinylbenzylammonium chloride) (AK-St-F).

The advantage of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles of the invention, which are coated with a cationically modified chitosan and, in next step, carboxymethylchitosan anionically modified with sulfur trioxide, is the small size, low size polydispersity, durable surface charge, stability in water, and much better magnetic properties (relaxivity) than available in the prior art contrast agents.

The resulting suspension of nanoparticles can find a number of biomedical applications. The abovementioned advantages of nanoparticles allows them to be used as the contrast agent in smaller doses (lower concentration of iron) than that obtained using other available contrast agents while providing the same effect on MRI. Introduction of gadolinium on the SPION surface allows obtaining images not only T2 -weighted, due to the presence of iron oxide in the structure, but also the Tl -weighted, which greatly enhances the contrast between collected scans. Gadolinium in the form of Gd3+ cation complexes with DTPA or EDTA is introduced on the surface of the nanoparticles by addition of these chelating groups to the both, the positively and negatively charged polymer coating. Whereas, the coating made of polyelectrolyte layer having fluorinated groups allows using such modified nanopartcicles as contrast agents for simultaneous imaging ¾ NMR and 19F NMR, which, due to its high fluorine nuclei response in this kind of research, also makes it easier to track changes in generated images. The introduction of fluorine atoms on the surface of the nanoparticles can be carried out using both, the cationic and the anionic polymer, i.e., regardless of the sign of the surface charge of the modified nanoparticles. The covering with a layer of heparin allows, inter alia, better differentiate imaging of atherosclerotic endothelium. Joining to the SPION surface of

a specific antibody or specific aptamer of antibody, results in specific binding of the nanoparticles with the selected tissue/cell of the human body, including, for example, an inflamed blood vessel wall, which also improves the quality of obtained MRI images. While, the introduction of a fluorescent probe to the surface of SPION enables greater use of nanoparticles in medical diagnostics, since such functionalized nanoparticles will be used as a diagnostic agent used simultaneously in magnetic resonance imaging as well as in fluorescence microscopy. The suspensions of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with surface appropriately modified can be used also for the cellular labeling or separation of cells, tissue repair, drug delivery, hyperthermia or magnetofection.

The invention also provides a method for producing superparamagnetic nanoparticles according to the invention, characterized in that the aqueous solution of the cationic polysaccharide at a concentration of 0.1 - 10 mg/dm3 is combined with salts of iron(II) and

iron(III) to a concentration of iron ions 0.001-0.500 mol/dm3, and then purged with inert gas and stirred at 10-60 °C, and then combined with a base to obtain pH of the mixture higher than 8, in which the precipitation of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with

a durable positive charge occurs while purging with inert gas and stirring, and after purification, superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with positive surface charge can be coated with at least one layer of counter-charged polyelectrolyte and/or functionalized.

The result of the process of superparamagnetic nanoparticles preparation according to the invention is obtaining of iron oxide nanoparticles with a durable positive charge.

Preferably, the aqueous solution of cationic polysaccharide is an ammonium chitosan derivative (derivatized by e.g. glicidylotrimethylammonium chloride). Also preferably, the concentration of polysaccharide is 0.5-5 g/dm3. Also preferably, as iron(II) and iron(III) salts, iron(II) and iron(III) chlorides are used, and iron(II) and iron(III) salts are in a molar ratio 1:2 and the concentration of iron ions is 0.002-0.200 mol/dm3.

Also preferably, ammonia is used as a base, and also the cationic polysaccharide solution containing the iron ions is combined with the base in order to achieve pH higher than 9.

In the preparation of superparamagnetic nanoparticles as a method of deposition on their surface with a positive charge of a polyanion and the deposition of successive layers of oppositely charged polyelectrolytes, electrostatic self-assembly method type "layer-by-layer" is applied.

The use of strong polycation, instead of polyanion, in the process of co-precipitation of iron oxide nanoparticles is a novel approach in the method of synthesis. In this case, the process of formation of nanoparticles can be controlled by the formation of polymer chelates with iron ions, while the use of carboxyl group-containing polyanion usually leads to formation of insoluble salts of carboxylic acids.

Preferably, the use of a cationically-modified chitosan to coat superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles results in durable positive surface charge of nanoparticles, the value of which is virtually independent on pH of the environment into which the nanoparticles are introduced, which ensures the stability of the suspension in the water. The use of cationically-modified chitosan to coat superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles allows carrying out the processes of their surface modification, and the subsequent use of the polymer-coated nanoparticles in an aqueous medium of a wide pH range, including neutral and alkaline.

A method for producing superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles coated with cationically modified chitosan according to the invention has the advantage that it takes place in an aqueous medium, and proceeds without the use of organic solvents and toxic precursors as well as difficult to remove surfactants.

The positive charge on the surface of the nanoparticles may, however, cause the

aggregation of components of human blood such as erythrocytes, after their introduction as the contrast agent into the bloodstream. To eliminate this phenomenon and ensure full

biocompatibility of the contrast agent, superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles coated with cationically -modified chitosan according to the invention, preferably are covered with carboxymethylchitosan anionically modified with sulfur trioxide (example 6) or heparin (example 8), using "layer-by-layer" method of deposition of polyelectrolytes. Hereby, a stable dispersion of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with durable negative surface charge is obtained. An easy modification of the surface of nanoparticles, which are the basis of the invention, and controlled modification of their surface charge and the size are possible. The most importantly, the process does not lead to a decrease in relaxivity of nanoparticles (example 15), which is an important parameter of utility of this invention, on the contrary, the use of hydrophilic polymers, which are the abovementioned chitosan derivatives in the form of a coating covering the superparamagnetic cores, contributes to a significant improvement for this parameter of the nanoparticles obtained according to the invention.

The present invention also provides the use of superparamagnetic nanoparticles according to the invention as the contrast agent in magnetic resonance imaging and/or fluorescence imaging and/or fluorescence microscopy.

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is described in more detail embodiments in the accompanying drawings, in which:

Fig. 1 shows the macromolecular structure of the ammonium derivative of chitosan ;

Fig. 2 & 3 show TEM images of nanoparticles of example 2;

Fig. 4 shows TEM images of nanoparticles of example 6;

Fig. 5 & 6 show TEM images of nanoparticles of example 5;

Fig. 7 & 8 show graphs illustrating the distribution of the core diameter of

superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles;

Fig. 9 shows a graph of the hydrodynamic diameter of the colloidal nanoparticles of examples 2, 6 and 7;

Fig. 10 shows an example of photograph illustrating the crystal planes obtained using

HREM for nanoparticles of example 2;

Fig. 11 shows IR spectra of ammonium derivative of chitosan and nanoparticles of example 2 and 5;

Fig. 12 shows images from magnetic force microscope for colloids of example 2; Fig. 13 shows a graph of the magnetic susceptibility of nanoparticles of example 2 as a function of temperature;

Fig. 14 shows a graph of the magnetization (M) as a function of the magnetic induction (μοΗ) for colloid of example 2;

Fig. 15, 16 & 17 represent specimens showing the interaction of colloids of example 2 and 6 with human blood;

Fig. 18, 19 & 20 represent thermograms recorded for cationically modified chitosan and

nanoparticles of examples 2 and 5;

Fig. 21 shows the excitation and emission spectra of the iron oxide nanoparticles with fluorescamine attached to their surface;

Fig. 22 shows MRI maps originating from in vivo observation of impact of iron oxide nanoparticles of example 5 and 6 on liver T2 relaxation time maps.

EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles according to the invention were prepared by one-step method of synthesis, consisting of co-precipitating of iron(II) and iron(III) ions in presence of biocompatible cationic polymer, cationically modified chitosan. Cationically modified chitosan synthesis was carried out according to the method described in the literature (Cho 2006), resulting in formation of polymer with structure presented in Fig. 1. In examples 1-5 cationically modified chitosan having a degree of substitution of 95%, defined on the basis of nuclear magnetic resonance spectra, was used (Bulwan 2009).

Example 1. Synthesis of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles coated with cationically modified chitosan ( CCh)

0.1622 g FeCl3-6H20 and 0.0596 g FeCl2-4H20 (concentrations molar ratio of Fe(III):Fe(II) = 2: 1) were added to 50 ml CCh solution with concentration lg/1 in 0.1M NaCl, at pH 1.5. The system was closed, purged with argon for 10 min, sonicated (sonicator type SONIC-6

POLSONIC) using continued sonication without cooling of the system. 5 ml 5M NH3(aq) was added to the system and the mixture was sonicated for further 30 min under the same conditions, purging with argon continuously. pH of the mixture after the synthesis was about 10. Continuous sonication of the system led to an increase in the bath temperature to about 40 °C at the end of the process. The resulting suspension was filtered through a syringe filter with pores of 0.2 μιη. For purification of the suspension of coated iron oxide nanoparticles from the residue of reactants magnetic chromatography was applied. 5 ml of suspension was introduced on a column packed with steel wool (ferromagnetic), to which neodymium magnets were applied. On the column filling, the nanoparticles were deposited, then they were washed with 3 ml of deionized water. After removal of the magnets, the column was washed with deionized water, and the purified nanoparticles were collected.

Example 2. Synthesis of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles coated with cationically modified chitosan using pulsed sonication with cooling.

The procedure was as in example 1, except that the pulsed sonication (pulse length of 1 s at 5 s) and the ice-cooling (the temperature constant in the course of about 20 °C) in an ultrasonic bath were applied.

Example 3. Synthesis of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles coated with cationically modified chitosan using continuous sonication with cooling.

The procedure was as in example 1, except that the continuous sonication was applied and the ice-cooling as in example 2 was used.

Example 4. Synthesis of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles coated with cationically modified chitosan with the use of mechanical stirrer.

The procedure was as in example 1, except that the mixing system using a mechanical stirrer (mechanical stirrer EURO STAR powercontrol-visc PI, IKA-WERKE) was applied instead of sonication. Mixing was performed at the speed of 300 rpm.

Example 5. Synthesis of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles coated with cationically modified chitosan with the use of pulse sonication with cooling and with higher concentration of polymer.

The procedure was as in example 2, except that the CCh solution with concentration of 3g/l in 0.1M NaCl was used.

Example 6. Covering of nanoparticles coated with cationically modified chitosan using the carboxymethylchitosan anionically modified with sulfur trioxide (ACh).

5 ml of purified suspension of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles coated with cationically modified chitosan of example 2 was sonicated for 5 min. 20 ml of ACh solution with concentration of lg/1 in 0.1M NaCl was added and sonication was continued for 10 min. The suspension of nanoparticles coated with ACh was purified from excess of polymer and salt using magnetic chromatography as in example 1.

Example 7. Coating o f nanoparticles with negative surface charge obtained as in example 6 with cationically modified chitosan.

4 ml of the purified suspension of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles coated with

CCh and then ACh of example 6 was sonicated for 5 min. Then 10 ml of CCh solution having

a substitution degree of 56% and a concentration of lg/1 in 0.1 M NaCl was added and sonication was continued for 10 min. The suspension of nanoparticles coated with

CCh/ACh/CCh was purified from excess of polymer and salt using magnetic chromatography as in example 1.

Example 8. Coating of cationically modified chitosan nanoparticles with the use of heparin.

10 ml of suspension of example 5 (for preparation of the nanoparticles, CCh solution having a substitution degree of 56% was used) was sonicated for 5 min, using continuous sonication. Then, while continuing sonication, 10 ml of a heparin solution having a

concentration of 3g/l in 0.2 M NaCl was added. The thus-formed mixture was sonicated for 10 min, proceeding continuous sonication. The suspension of nanoparticles coated with heparin was purified from excess of polymer and salt using magnetic chromatography as in example 1.

Example 9. Coating of nanoparticles obtained according to example 6, having negative surface charge, with the use of polv(N,N-dimethyl-N-4'-vinylbenzyl-N2-(perfuorooctanoyl-N'-methylimino )eth lammonium chloride)-co-(N,N,N-trimethyl-N-4 '-vinylbenzylammonium chloride) (AK-St-F).

10 ml of suspension obtained according to example 6 was sonicated for 5 min using continuous sonification. Then, while continuing sonication, 10 ml of AK-St-F solution having a concentration of 3 g/1 in 0.2 M NaCl was added. The thus-formed mixture was sonicated for 10 min, proceeding continuous sonication. The suspension of nanoparticles coated with AK-St-F was purified from excess of polymer and salt using magnetic chromatography as in example 1.

Example 10. Determination of iron in the suspension of nanoparticles.

In order to determine the concentration of iron in colloids obtained according to the procedures described in examples 1-5, spectrophotometric method based on the formation of colored complexes of iron(II) with phenanthroline was used. 1 ml of 1M HCl was added to 1 ml of tested sample, heating in hot water to dissolve the iron oxide nanoparticles. Then, in order to reduce Fe(III) to Fe(II), vitamin C was added in a 1 : 1 molar ratio concerning the theoretical iron content of the sample. In the next stage, the solution was diluted 50-fold and 6.25 ml of it was pipetted into a 25 ml flask, to which 3 ml of 0.2% solution of 1,10-phenanthroline hydrate in 0.08M HCl was also added, whereafter filled up to the 25 ml line with deionized water. After 10 min the absorbance for the solution was measured at wavelength = 512 nm. The iron contents in the obtained solutions (examples 1-5) were calculated from the measured values of absorbance, based on the previously determined calibration curve for various concentrations of Fe(II). These results, together with the yield of the superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles synthesis are shown in Table 1.

Table 1


Example 11. Examination of the stability of colloids in deioniz.ed water.

The colloid samples were sonicated for 5 min before performing the zeta potential measurements. The measurements were performed using the instrument Zetasizer Nano ZS from Malvern. The results of zeta potential measurements for colloids of examples 1-7 are summarized in Table 2.

Table 2

Colloidal solutions are stable when the values of the zeta potentials of the particles dispersed phase are less than -30 mV or greater than 30 mV. The data collected in Table 2 suggest that, the stable colloids were obtained as a result of particle synthesis according to the procedures described in examples 1-7. The colloidal particles obtained in example 6 have a negative zeta potential, which indicates that they have been covered with an anionic polymer resulting in changing of the surface charge from positive to negative. However, the colloidal particles of example 7 have a positive zeta potential, indicating complete surface covering by cationic polymer resulting in obtaining and the surface charge reversal from negative to positive. This experiment proves that the method for easy, controlled manipulation of charge on the surface of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles by adsorption of oppositely charged polyelectrolytes, has been developed.

Example 12. Nanoparticles core size determination using TEM.

In order to determine the size of nanoparticles, the colloids obtained according to the procedures described in examples 2 and 6 were sonicated for 2 min. Then, small volumes of these solutions were applied to the carbon grid and were allowed to dry under cover. However, in order to imaging the nanoparticles synthesized according to the procedure described in example 5 (for the synthesis of the colloid sample based on example 5, CCh solution having a degree of substitution determined from nuclear magnetic resonance spectra and equal 56 %) the colloid was lyophilized, and then dried nanoparticles were dissolved in methanol and sonicated for 2 min. The so-obtained preparation was applied to a carbon grid and left under cover for solvent evaporation. The measurement was performed using Tecnai G2 F20 (200kV) transmission electron microscope equipped with a field emission gun FEG in bright-field and high-resolution mode (HREM). The images of colloid of example 2 are shown in Fig. 2 and 3, colloid of example 6 is illustrated in Fig.4, while nanoparticles of example 5 are shown in Fig. 5 and 6. The diameter of the nanoparticles of example 2 was determined on the basis on images captured in high-resolution mode, while the size of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles of example 6 was determined using TEM, bright-field mode. In each case about 100 counts of the size of nanoparticles were performed. Graphs showing the diameter distribution of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles are shown in Fig.

7 and 8. The individual figures show:

• bright-field TEM for nanoparticles of example 2 in Fig.2,

• HREM for nanoparticles of example 2 in Fig.3

• bright-field TEM for nanoparticles of example 6 in Fig. 4,

· 50 nm scale bright-field TEM for nanoparticles of example 5 in Fig. 5,

• 100 nm scale bright-field TEM for nanoparticles of example 5 in Fig. 6,

• size distribution for nanoparticles of example 2 in Fig. 7,

• size distribution for nanoparticles of example 6 in Fig. 8.

Nanoparticles of example 2 have a size of 11.9 ± 1.7 nm, while superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles of example 6 are characterized by size 10.1 ± 2.9 nm. Significant measurement error in the case of nanoparticles of example 6 occurs due to the fact, that the counts were made from images taken in bright field (less accurate) because this type of samples does not allow obtaining good quality of images at high resolution. As it can be seen in Fig. 5 and 6, the increasing amount of the polymer during the co-precipitation reduces the size of formed nanoparticles; in the images the objects with dimensions smaller than 10 nm can be seen. Aggregates shown in Fig. 2-6 were formed during the aggregation process as a result of

measurements procedure, which forces the drying of the samples.

Example 13. Determination of the nanoparticles hydrodynamic diameters.

In order to determine the nanoparticles hydrodynamic diameters, colloids of examples 2, 6 and 7 were sonicated for 5 min. The measurements were carried out using Zetasizer Nano ZS provided by Malvern, by using dynamic light scattering (DLS) measured at 173° in temperature 25°C. The obtained results are presented in Fig. 9. The distributions of nanoparticles hydrodynamic diameters in an aqueous suspension show that nanoparticles of example 2 oscillate around 80 nm, SPION of example 6 around 70 nm and SPION of example 7 - 160 nm. In view of the results of example 10 it can be concluded that one nanoparticle is formed of a number of cores made up of iron oxide of about 10-12 nm in diameter connected to the polymer chain.

Example 14. Determination of the crystal structure of nanoparticles.

The crystallographic structure of iron oxide forming superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles due to the syntheses described in Examples 1-6 was determined based on images of the nanoparticles of example 2 captured in high-resolution mode. A sample image showing the crystallographic planes obtained by using HREM for colloid of example 2 is presented in Fig. 10. The determination of the interplanar crystal spacings was also made on the basis of Fourier transform of obtained HREM images for example 2. Table 3 gives obtained interplanar spacings along with associated to them spacings for the sample of example 2.

Table 3


* On the basis of the calculations resulting from the unit cell parameters for a - 8.396 A

Planes (220) for Fe3C>4 are presented in Fig. 10 (Iidaa 2007). Spacings between the crystallographic planes are equal 0.306 nm. The data presented in Table 3 show that co- precipitation of iron(II) and iron(III) with cationically modified chitosan does not change the crystal structure of the obtained Fe3C>4.

Example 15. Determination of the interaction nature between the polymer and the surface of nanop articles.

In order to determine how the polymer is binding to iron oxide, infrared spectra for the samples of examples 2 and 5 were performed. The glass plate with a reflective coating (MirrlR glass provided by Kevley Technologies) was washed with ethanol, and then 20 drops of the suspension of nanoparticles of examples 2 and 5 were deposited on it (in different places) by waiting after each drop deposition for solvent to evaporate. IR spectra of the nanoparticles, which are shown in Fig. 11 (line B for nanoparticles of example 5 and line C for nanoparticles of example 2), were collected in transreflection mode using spectrometer FT-IR Varian 670. IR spectrum of pure cationically modified chitosan (Fig. 11, line A) was collected by using of the KBr pellet and spectrometer with Fourier transform EQUINOX 55 provided by Bruker.

The spectra in Fig. 11 shows that the band at 1601 cm"1, attributed to vibrations of primary amino group, disappears for nanoparticles of examples 2 and 5. This indicates that iron ions from the nanoparticles are chelated by the amino groups of the polymer (Wang 2008). There is also a shift of C-0 stretching vibration bands at 1114 cm"1 (CCh) up to 1068 cm"1 (examples 2 i 5), showing that there is an interaction between hydroxyl group at C3 and magnetite nanoparticles (Hernandez 2009).

Example 16. Imaging the magnetic properties of nanoparticles.

In order to imaging the magnetic properties of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles, the measurements with the used of magnetic force microscopy were performed. For this purpose, a silicon wafer was cut into tiles, which were provided in a solution that is a mixture of cone. H2SO4 and 30% H2O2 at a volume ratio of 1 : 1 for 30 min to clean them. Plates were rinsed with large amounts of distilled water and dried in a stream of argon. The colloid of example 2 was sonicated for 5 min and then diluted 10-fold. 10 μΐ of the prepared sample were loaded on the aforementioned plate, allowed to stand for 15 min, and then dried in a stream of argon. The measurement was performed using atomic force microscope equipped with a controller Nanoscope IVA (Bruker, USA), using silicon tip coated with Co/Cr magnetic layer (Bruker). The measurement was made in the oscillatory mode (called "tappingmode") using the so-called "lift mode" in imaging the magnetic properties. The resulting images from the magnetic force microscope for colloid of example 2 are shown in Fig. 12 (from left to right: topography, phase imaging, imaging magnetic forces). The magnetic measurements were carried out for different distances between the tip and the tested sample (1 - 75 nm, 2 - 50 run, 3 - 25 nm).

Fig. 12 shows that the colloid of example 2 exhibits magnetic properties. This is evidenced by changes in contrast in the pictures on the right side resulting from the reduction of the distance between the tip and the sample (interaction distance effect). Magnetic interactions are long-range interactions, and therefore are observed even at high tip-to-sample distances (1 in Figure 12, on the right side). Aggregates observed in the pictures are the result of the action of capillary forces during the plate drying.

Example 17. Measurement of the magnetic susceptibility of nanoparticles.

To explore the magnetic susceptibility, the colloid from example 2 was placed in the container Lake ShoreCryotronics Inc. with symbol 700 SC-10 and tested. The real component of the magnetic susceptibility as a function of the AC magnetic field was measured at a frequency of 189 Hz using Stanford SR 830 nanovoltmeter. Magnetic susceptibility as a function of temperature is shown in Fig. 13 as a plot of the real component of the magnetic susceptibility as a function of temperature for the colloid of example 2.

A value of magnetic susceptibility illustrated in Fig. 13 is approximately constant and equals 1.4 cm3/g. Positive susceptibility value indicates that the nanoparticles are made of paramagnetic material.

Example 18. The measurements of nanoparticles magnetization.

In order to determine the dependence of magnetization (M) on the magnetic field induction (uoH), colloid of example 2 was placed in the container Lake ShoreCryotronics Inc. with symbol 700 SC-10 and tested. In measurements the controller of the vibration magnetometer Lake Shore Model 7300 was used. The sample was kept at 200 K using Janis flow cryostat. The plot of above relation is shown in Fig. 14 (dependency of magnetization on the magnetic field induction for colloid of example 2).

Fig. 14 shows a typical relationship Μ=ί(μ0Η) for superparamagnetic substance. The linear relationship is not observed (paramagnetic materials) or there is no hysteresis characteristic for ferromagnetic substances.

The resulting value of the saturation of magnetization 123 ± 12 emu/g Fe is close to the value measured for magnetite (Jung 1995), and taking into account the total weight of the coated nanoparticles, that value equals 61 ± 6 emu/g, what is comparable to values measured for similar superparamagnetic nanoparticles (Iidaa 2007).

Examplel9. Determination of relaxivitv for the colloidal solution of nanoparticles.

Measurements were carried out for, properly diluted with deionised water, samples of colloids of examples 2, 5 and 6 and FEREX, the commercial contrast agent. The measurements of time relaxation Tx and T2 were carried out using MR 4,7 T experimental magnetic resonance tomograph with horizontal superconducting magnet provided by Bruker. In order to obtain the relaxivity rx and r2 for individual colloids the following equations were used:

Ri = Ri + 1 · cFe R2 = R2 + r2 - cFe

where: Ri (R2) - longitudinal (transverse) relaxation rate;

Ti (T2) - longitudinal (transverse) relaxation time;

Ri° (R20) - longitudinal (transverse) relaxation rate of the sample without a contrast agent; ri (r2) - longitudinal (transverse) relaxivity;

cFe - concentration of iron in the tested contrast agent.

The results are presented in Table 4 showing the relaxivities of colloids of examples 2, 5 and 6 and Ferex.

Table 4.

The suitability of the obtained nanoparticles as contrast agents in MRI measurements can be inferred based on the relaxivity values ri and r2. The higher the value of r2 for the colloid, with the same value ri for commercial FeREX, the greater the contrast enhancement (darkening field) in magnetic resonance imaging. The colloids obtained in examples 2 and 6 demonstrate, therefore, much better magnetic properties than the tested commercial contrast agent.

Example 20. Influence of nanoparticles on coagulation of erythrocytes.

In order to examine the impact of colloids of examples 2 and 6 on human blood, 4 μΐ of blood and 18 μΐ of corresponding colloid were spotted on microscope slides. After mixing, the specimens were covered with a cover glass and observed under ECLIPSE LV100D optical microscope provided by Nikon. The resulting images are shown in Fig.15-17. Fig. 17 shows human blood (a) and aggregates formed from erythrocytes (b), as models for the studied colloids. Fig. 15 shows the colloid of example 6 with the blood, and Fig.16 shows the colloid of example 2 (a) without dilution, (b) 10-fold diluted, (c) 100-fold diluted, (d) 1000-fold diluted with blood.

The possible biological use of colloids of examples 2 and 6 can be concluded on the basis of these findings. The colloid of example 2 has to be diluted before administration to prevent erythrocyte aggregation. However, the colloid of example 6 can be used even in concentrated doses, because the aggregation of erythrocytes is not observed. Carboxymethylchitosan anionically modified with sulfur trioxide, well attached to the surface of nanoparticles with a positive charge (superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles coated with cationically modified chitosan), provides reversal of the surface charge to negative, and thus greater biocompatibility with human blood.

Example 21. Determination of the polymer content in the nanoparticles.

In order to determine the CCh content in co-precipitated iron oxide nanoparticles, the colloid samples of examples 2 and 5 (for the synthesis of the colloid sample of example 5, CCh with 56% degree of substitution was used) were lyophilized. Thus obtained powders were placed in platinum crucible, and these in thermogravimetric analyzer Netzsch STA 449 F 1 Jupiter. The measurement was carried out at temperatures 23-810°C with rate of increase 10°C/min in argon atmosphere. Thermograms recorded for the pure cationically modified chitosan as well as for nanoparticles of examples 2 and 5 are shown in Fig.18, 19, 20:

• Thermogram for pure CCh in Fig. 18,

· Thermogram for nanoparticles of example 2 in Fig. 19,

• Thermogram for nanoparticles of example 5 in Fig. 20.

The thermogram in Fig. 18 shows that under the tested conditions, the weight loss for pure CCh is 93%. For the sample of example 2, the weight loss, associated with CCh decomposition, equals 30% (Fig. 19), while for the sample of example 5 is 11% (Fig. 20). On this basis, the CCh content in the colloid samples of examples 2 and 5 were determined, giving the following values:

• nanoparticles of example 2 contain 32% of CCh (0.3/0.93=0.32),

• nanoparticles of example 5 contain 12% of CCh.

Although in the synthesis of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with CCh of example 5, a solution with higher concentration of CCh was used, its content in the system is less than when using a solution with lower concentration. It should be noted, however, that in this particular case, for the colloid of example 5, a polymer with a different degree of substitution of ammonium groups was used, which have a significant effect on the properties of the final product.

Example 22. Iron oxide nanoparticles with the fluorescent probe attached to their surface.

10 ml of suspension of example 5 (for the nanoparticles synthesis, CCh with 56% degree of substitution was used) was mixed with 2 ml of fluorescamine solution in acetone at a concentration of lmg/ml. After 15 min, the acetone was removed by purging of the mixture with an inert gas. Then the nanoparticles were purified by magnetic chromatography. In order to confirm the functionalization of positively charged surface of SPION with fluorescent probe which is fluorescamine, the purified nanoparticles suspension was properly diluted with deionized water. Then an excitation kem = 500 nm; Fig. 21 A) and emission spectra (λ = 395 nm; Fig. 2 IB) were recorded using LS 55 spectrofluorometer provided by PerkinElmer.

In Fig. 21 the characteristic bands of the product resulting from the reaction of fluorescamine with primary amino groups presented in CCh structure are shown, which confirms the obtainment of SPION with positive surface charge functionalized with fluorescent probe.

Example 23. In vivo observation of the effect of the iron oxide nanoparticles of example 5 (degree of substitution 56%) and 6 based on the example of liver relaxation time T^ maps.

The measurement A (Fig. 22) was carried out after putting the BALB/c mouse in the scanner. Then nanoparticles of example 6 were administrated in a dose of 0.55 mg/kg in 5% glucose solution, and measurement B (Fig. 22) was carried out. After about 12 min, the nanoparticles of example 5 were administrated in a dose of 0.55 mg/kg in 5% glucose solution, and measurement C (Fig. 22) was carried out. The nanoparticles were administered through a catheter inserted into the femoral artery. MSME sequence was used in the measurements, TE = 4 ms, TR = 1500 ms, effective TR is about 2000 ms - every second breath, double gating, FOV = 22x22 mm, MTX 128x128.

As it can be noticed, each following map of T2 relaxation time shows T2 at lower value. It can therefore be concluded, that iron oxide nanoparticles obtained according to the examples 5 and 6 behave in the in vivo systems as contrast agents shortening the T2 relaxation time.

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