Magnetic interactions and in vitro study of biocompatible hydrocaffeic acid-stabilized Fe–Pt clusters as MRI contrast agents†
A detailed magnetic study of separated Fe–Pt NPs and Fe–Pt clusters was performed to predict their optimal size and morphology for the maximum saturation magnetization, a factor that is known to influence the performance of a magnetic-resonance-imaging (MRI) contrast agent. Excellent stability and biocompatibility of the nanoparticle suspension was achieved using a novel coating based on hydrocaffeic acid (HCA), which was confirmed with a detailed Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) study. An in vitro study on a human-bladder papillary urothelial neoplasm RT4 cell line confirmed that HCA-Fe–Pt nanoparticles showed no cytotoxicity, even at a very high concentration (550 μg Fe–Pt per mL), with no delayed cytotoxic effect being detected. This indicates that the HCA coating provides excellent biocompatibility of the nanoparticles, which is a prerequisite for the material to be used as a safe contrast agent for MRI. The cellular uptake and internalization mechanism were studied using ICP-MS and TEM analyses. Furthermore, it was shown that even a very low concentration of Fe–Pt nanoparticles (<10 μg mL−1) in the cells is enough to decrease the T2 relaxation times by 70%. In terms of the MRI imaging, this means a large improvement in the contrast, even at a low nanoparticle concentration and an easier visualization of the tissues containing nanoparticles, proving that HCA-coated Fe–Pt nanoparticles have the potential to be used as an efficient and safe MRI contrast agent.