Biological Systems Engineering



Date of this Version


Citation ACS Omega 2020, 5, 16220−16227


2020 American Chemical Society


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. TBI can have a long-term impact on the quality of life for survivors of all ages. However, there remains no approved treatment that improves outcomes following TBI, which is partially due to poor delivery of therapies into the brain. Therefore, there is a significant unmet need to develop more effective delivery strategies that increase the accumulation and retention of potentially efficacious treatments in the injured brain. Recent work has revealed that nanoparticles (NPs) may offer a promising approach for site-specific delivery; however, a detailed understanding of the specific NP properties that promote brain accumulation and retention are still being developed. Multimodal imaging plays a vital role in the understanding of physicochemical properties that initiate the uptake and accumulation of NPs in the brain at both high spatial (e.g., fluorescence imaging) and temporal (e.g., magnetic resonance imaging, MRI) frequency. However, many NP systems that are currently used in TBI only provide contrast in a single imaging modality limiting the imaging data that can be obtained, and those that offer multimodal imaging capabilities have complicated multistep synthesis methods. Therefore, the goal of this work was to develop an ultrasmall NP with simple fabrication capable of multimodal imaging. Here, we describe the development, characterization, accumulation, and retention of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-coated europium−gadolinium (Eu−Gd) mixed magnetic NPs (MNPs) in a controlled cortical impact mouse model of TBI. We find that these NPs having an ultrasmall core size of 2 nm and a small hydrodynamic size of 13.5 nm can be detected in both fluorescence and MR imaging modalities and rapidly accumulate and are retained in injured brain parenchyma. These NPs should allow for further testing of NP physicochemical properties that promote accumulation and retention in TBI and other disease models.