Published in the Nanoscale Journal
20 September 2021
The preparation of an efficient bimodal single probe for magnetic resonance (MRI) and optical imaging (OI) is reported. Paramagnetic properties have been obtained by the non-covalent encapsulation of the clinically used Gd3+ chelate (i.e., Gd-HP-DO3A) within silica nanoparticles through a water-in-oil microemulsion process. To ensure colloidal stability, the surface of the particles was modified by means of treatment using PEG-silane, and further functionalized photochemically using a diazirine linker bearing carboxylic functions. Optical properties were obtained by the covalent grafting of a near-infrared emitting probe (NIR) on the resulting surface. The confinement of Gd complexes within the permeable matrix resulted in a significant increase in longitudinal relaxivities (>500% at 20 MHz) in comparison with the relaxivities of free chelate, while the post-functionalization process of PEG with fluorescent compounds appeared promising for the derivatization procedure. Several physico-chemical properties attested to the efficient surface modification and confirmed covalent grafting. Preliminary imaging experiments complete this study and confirm the potential of the presented system for preclinical imaging experiments.