Polyol synthesis, functionalisation, and biocompatibility studies of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles as potential MRI contrast agents
Iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) of low polydispersity were obtained through a simple polyol synthesis in high pressure and high temperature conditions. The control of the size and morphology of the nanoparticles was studied by varying the solvent used, the amount of iron precursor and the reaction time. Compared with conventional synthesis methods such as thermal decomposition or co-precipitation, this process yields nanoparticles with a narrow particle size distribution in a simple, reproducible and cost effective manner without the need for an inert atmosphere. For example, IONPs with a diameter of ca. 8 nm could be made in a reproducible manner and with good crystallinity as evidenced by X-ray diffraction analysis and high saturation magnetization value (84.5 emu g−1). The surface of the IONPs could be tailored post synthesis with two different ligands which provided functionality and stability in water and phosphate buffer saline (PBS). Their potential as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent was confirmed as they exhibited high r1 and r2 relaxivities of 7.95 mM−1 s−1 and 185.58 mM−1 s−1 respectively at 1.4 T. Biocompatibility and viability of IONPs in primary human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) was studied and confirmed.