Organic-coated superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (OC-SPIONs) were synthesized and characterized by transmission electron microscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. OC-SPIONs were transferred from organic media into water using poly(amidoamine) dendrimers modified with 6-TAMRA fluorescent dye and folic acid molecules. The saturation magnetization of the resulting dendrimer-coated SPIONs (DC-SPIONs) was determined, using a superconducting quantum interference device, to be 60 emu/g Fe versus 90 emu/g Fe for bulk magnetite. Selective targeting of the DC-SPIONs to KB cancer cells in vitro was demonstrated and quantified using two distinct and complementary imaging modalities: UV-visible and X-ray fluorescence; confocal microscopy confirmed internalization. The results were consistent between the uptake distribution quantified by flow cytometry using 6-TAMRA UV-visible fluorescence intensity and the cellular iron content determined using X-ray fluorescence microscopy.
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