Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids

Selective targeting of antibody conjugated multifunctional nanoclusters (nanoroses) to epidermal growth factor receptors in cancer cells.

PMID 21591638


The ability of smaller than 100 nm antibody (Ab) nanoparticle conjugates to target and modulate the biology of specific cell types may enable major advancements in cellular imaging and therapy in cancer. A key challenge is to load a high degree of targeting, imaging, and therapeutic functionality into small, yet stable particles. A versatile method called thin autocatalytic growth on substrate (TAGs) has been developed in our previous study to form ultrathin and asymmetric gold coatings on iron oxide nanocluster cores producing exceptional near-infrared (NIR) absorbance. AlexaFluor 488 labeled Abs were used to correlate the number of Abs conjugated to iron oxide/gold nanoclusters (nanoroses) with the hydrodynamic size. A transition from submonolayer to multilayer aggregates of Abs on the nanorose surface was observed for 54 Abs and an overall particle diameter of ∼60-65 nm. The hydrodynamic diameter indicated coverage of a monolayer of 54 Abs, in agreement with the prediction of a geometric model, by assuming a circular footprint of 16.9 nm diameter per Ab molecule. The targeting efficacy of nanoclusters conjugated with monoclonal Abs specific for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) was evaluated in A431 cancer cells using dark field microscopy and atomic absorbance spectrometry (AAS) analysis. Intense NIR scattering was achieved from both high uptake of nanoclusters in cells and high intrinsic NIR absorbance of individual nanoclusters. Dual mode imaging with dark field reflectance microscopy and fluorescence microscopy indicates the Abs remained attached to the Au surfaces upon the uptake by the cancer cells. The ability to load intense multifunctionality, specifically strong NIR absorbance, conjugation of an Ab monolayer in addition to a strong r2 MRI contrast that was previously demonstrated in a total particle size of only 63 nm, is an important step forward in development of theranostic agents for combined molecular specific imaging and therapy.