In situ self-assembled Ag–Fe3O4 nanoclusters in exosomes for cancer diagnosis†
Recently, exosomes have gained attention as an effective tool for early cancer detection. Almost all types of cells release exosomes, making them substantially important for disease diagnosis. In this study, we have utilized HepG2 cancer cells for the in situ biosynthesis of silver and iron oxide nanoclusters (NCs) from their respective salts (i.e., AgNO3 and FeCl2, respectively) in the presence of glutathione (GSH). The self-assembled biosynthesized silver and iron NCs were readily loaded on exosomes as payloads and secreted into the cell culture medium. The cargo loaded exosomes were then isolated and characterized by electron microscopy for nano-silver and iron oxide NC confirmation. Ag NCs have potential as a fluorescent probe and Fe3O4 NCs as a contrast agent for CT and MRI. Furthermore, these isolated exosomes from HepG2 cancer cells have a significant influence on cellular uptake and cell viability when exposed to both HepG2 and U87 cancer cells. These findings demonstrate that the biocompatible nature of these self-assembled NCs loaded on exosomes could be utilized to bioimage cancer in the initial stages through fluorescence imaging.