Encapsulation and retention of chelated-copper inside hydrophobic nanoparticles: Liquid cored nanoparticles show better retention than a solid core formulation.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


In the field of imaging, (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET imaging allows evaluation of glucose metabolism and is the most widely used imaging agent clinically for metastatic cancer. While it can certainly detect the metastatic disease, in order to provide a more fully "individualized medicine" strategy of detection and pharmaceutical treatment, what is needed are additional imaging nanoparticles that resemble the subsequently-administered nanoparticle drug delivery system itself. Both of these nanoparticles must also be able to take advantage of what may well be a limited EPR effect in human tumors, which in and of itself still needs to be characterized in the clinic. Administration of FDG, followed by a nanoparticle imaging agent, followed by a therapeutic nanoparticle would constitute such an "individualized medicine strategy", especially for anti-metastasis approaches. It is here that our endogenous-inspired nanoparticle strategies for imaging and therapeutics are focused on encapsulating and retaining imaging ions such as copper inside novel hydrophobic nanoparticles. In this paper, we describe a new approach to label the core of hydrophobic nanoparticles composed of Glyceryl Trioleate (Triolein) with copper using the hydrophobic chelator Octaethyl porphyrin (OEP).

Research plan and methods

The research plan for this study was to (1) Formulate nanoparticles and control nanoparticle size using a modification of the solvent injection technique, named fast ethanol injection; (2) Chelate copper into the octaethyl porphyrin; (3) Encapsulate OEP-Cu in nanoparticles: the encapsulation efficiency of copper into liquid nanoparticles (LNP), solid nanoparticles (SNP) and phospholipid liposomes (PL) was evaluated by UV-Vis and atomic absorption spectroscopy; (4) Retain the encapsulated OEP-Cu in the liquid or solid cores of the nanoparticles in the presence of a lipid sink.


(1) The size of the nanoparticles was found to be strongly dependent on the Reynolds number and the initial concentration of components for the fast injection technique. At high Reynolds number (2181), a minimum value for the particle diameter of ∼30nm was measured. (2) Copper was chelated by OEP in a 1:1mol ratio with an association constant of 2.57×10(5)M(-1). (3) The diameter of the nanoparticles was not significantly affected by the presence of OEP or OEP-Cu. The percentage of encapsulation of copper to nanoparticles was >95% at low OEP-Cu concentrations. In the absence of OEP, copper was not detected in nanoparticles demonstrating the role of the hydrophobic chelator OEP in the encapsulation of the otherwise water-soluble copper inside lipid nanoparticles. (4) The in vitro retention upon incubation at 37°C over a 48h period in the presence of a lipid sink showed a slow transfer of OEP-Cu into the lipid sink (t1/2=7.7h) for SNP; for PL there was an almost instantaneous transfer of OEP-Cu into the lipid sink (t1/2=0.5h), while for the LNP, all OEP-Cu was retained in the LNP over the full 48h period.


The main conclusion of this study was that a very hydrophilic ion such as Cu(2+) can indeed be solubilized and retained in the core of hydrophobic nanoparticles when a hydrophobic molecule (OEP) is used as a chelator. The fast-injection technique was shown to provide a very convenient method to formulate both liquid and solid nanoparticles labeled with Cu (well chelated by OEP), with diameters as small as 30nm, and encapsulation efficiencies higher than 95% when the concentration of OEP-Cu loaded into the nanoparticles was equal to or below 2.5mol%. This is expected to be sufficient for PET-imaging studies.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hervella, P; Parra, E; Needham, D

Published Date

  • May 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 102 /

Start / End Page

  • 64 - 76

PubMed ID

  • 26925504

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-3441

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0939-6411

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.ejpb.2016.02.015


  • eng