Conjugated PNC-27 peptide/PEI-Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) as a double targeting agent for early cancer diagnosis: In vitro study

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Laboratory Sciences, School of Paramedical Sciences, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

2 Research Institute of Applied Sciences (ACECR), Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

3 Nuclear Medicine Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

4 Department of Medical Biotechnology and Nanotechnology, School of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

5 Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Basic Sciences and Advanced Technologies in Biology, University of Science and Culture, Tehran, Iran

6 Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Mashhad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Mashhad, Iran

7 Immunology Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

8 Department of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, School of Pharmacy, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

9 Nanotechnology Research Center, Pharmaceutical Technology Institute, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran


Objective(s): Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) have been considered promising non-invasive imaging tools in medicine. However, their high surface energy leads to NPs aggregation, while non-targeted SPIONs can cause cytotoxic effects on normal cells. In this work, we evaluated the in vitro potential of polyethyleneimine (PEI)-SPIONs targeted by PNC27 peptide as a double targeting agent throughout early cancer diagnosis.
Materials and Methods: Initially, PEI was conjugated to PNC27 with HDM-2-binding domain. Then, SPIONs were loaded into PEI-PNC27 through the ligand exchange method. The physicochemical characteristics of the synthesized NPs were evaluated. The cytotoxicity and targeting efficiency were assayed against HT-29 and CT-26 cell lines along with NIH-3t3 as normal cells by MTT method and Prussian blue staining test, respectively. 
Results: The mean diameter of synthesized carriers was obtained in the range of 86.6 – 116.1 nm with a positive charge. According to the cytotoxicity results, the binding and uptake abilities of the PNC27 peptide by cancer cells were significantly higher than that of the NIH-3t3 cells. However, the results were indicative of the more toxic impacts of targeted synthesized NPs against CT-26 cancer cell line when being compared with HT-29 cells, which may be caused by the different cytotoxicity mechanisms of NPs. In addition, the targeted carriers and SPIONs were present inside and around the cells with HDM-2 expression along with only a few non-targeted vectors, while displaying no appearance throughout the normal cell.
Conclusion: The results indicated the efficiency of targeted PEI-coated SPIONs for cancer diagnostic applications.


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