Hybrid FePt/SiO2/Au nanoparticles as a theranostic tool: in vitro photo-thermal treatment and MRI imaging
We have produced an innovative, theranostic material based on FePt/SiO2/Au hybrid nanoparticles (NPs) for both, photo-thermal therapy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Furthermore, a new synthesis approach, i.e., Au double seeding, for the preparation of Au nanoshells around the FePt/SiO2 cores, is proposed. The photo-thermal and the MRI response were first demonstrated on an aqueous suspension of hybrid FePt/SiO2/Au NPs. The cytotoxicity together with the internalization mechanism and the intracellular fate of the hybrid NPs were evaluated in vitro on a normal (NPU) and a half-differentiated cancerous cell line (RT4). The control samples as well as the normal cell line incubated with the NPs showed no significant temperature increase during the in vitro photo-thermal treatment (ΔT < 0.8 °C) and thus the cell viability remained high (∼90%). In contrast, due to the high NP uptake by the cancerous RT4 cell line, significant heating of the sample was observed (ΔT = 4 °C) and, consequently, after laser irradiation the cell viability dropped significantly to ∼60%. These results further confirm that the hybrid FePt/SiO2/Au NPs developed in the scope of this work were not only efficient but also highly selective photo-thermal agents. Furthermore, the improvement in the contrast and the easier distinction between the healthy and the cancerous tissues were clearly demonstrated with in vitro MRI experiments, proving that hybrid NPs have an excellent potential to be used as contrast agents.