SCIENCE CHINA Chemistry, Volume 61, Issue 7: 806-811(2018) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11426-017-9217-4

FeOOH-loaded mesoporous silica nanoparticles as a theranostic platform with pH-responsive MRI contrast enhancement and drug release

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  • ReceivedNov 25, 2017
  • AcceptedJan 31, 2018
  • PublishedMar 23, 2018


The development of stimuli-responsive theranostic platforms is of great demand for efficient cancer treatment because they can enhance diagnostic specificity and sensitivity. In this work, we report a pH-responsive theranostic nanoplatform based on FeOOH clusters loaded mesoporous silica nanoparticles (Fe@MSNs). The as-synthesized Fe@MSNs possess activatable T1 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) performance that can respond to the acidic microenvironment of solid tumor to turn on T1 singals by releasing paramagnetic Fe3+ ions. The Fe@MSNs are biocompatible without appreciable cytotoxicity. Moreover, the unique mesoporous structure endows the Fe@MSNs with significant advantages to effectively deliver chemotherapeutic drug for inhibiting the growth of solid tumor. We believe that this novel pH-responsive theranostic nanoplatform holds great promise in cancer treatment.

Funded by

the National Natural Science Foundation of China(81501461,21635002)

the Open Research Fund for Expensive Instrument Testing of Fuzhou University(2017T026,2017T028)


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81501461, 21635002) and the Open Research Fund for Expensive Instrument Testing of Fuzhou University (2017T026, 2017T028).

Interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


The supporting information is available online at http://chem.scichina.com and http://link.springer.com/journal/11426. The supporting materials are published as submitted, without typesetting or editing. The responsibility for scientific accuracy and content remains entirely with the authors.


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  • Scheme 1

    Schematic illustration of the synthesis and application in serving as a pH-responsive theranostic nanoplatform of Fe@MSNs (color online).

  • Figure 1

    (a) TEM image, (b) EDS pattern, (c) XPS Fe 2p spectrum, and (d) hydrodynamic diameter of the Fe@MSNs (color online).

  • Figure 2

    (a) Release profiles of Fe3+ ions from Fe@MSNs at pH 5.4 and pH 7.4 (n=3); (b) r1 values (n=3) and (c) T1-weighted phantom images of Fe@MSNs dispersed in buffers with different pH for different times ([Fe]=0.4 mM); (d) T1-weighted images of HeLa cells after incubating with Fe@MSNs for different times (color online).

  • Figure 3

    (a) Release profiles of DOX from Fe@MSNs-DOX in different pH buffers (n=3); (b) cell viability of HeLa cells after being incubated with free DOX or Fe@MSNs-DOX for 24 h, respectively (n=3) (color online).

  • Figure 4

    (a) T1-weighted images and (b) quantificational analysis of signal-to-noise changes (ΔSNR) of mice at different time points after the injection of Fe@MSNs-DOX (n=3). The regions of tumor are indicated by dash lines. (c) Tumor growth curves of S180 tumor-bearing mice after different treatments (n=5) (color online).

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