Corbin IR, Li H, Chen J, Lund-Katz S, Zhou R, Glickson JD & Zheng G
Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) are a naturally occurring endogenous nanoplatform in mammalian systems. These nanoparticles (22 nm) specifically transport cholesterol to cells expressing the LDL receptor (LDLR). Several tumors overexpress LDLRs presumably to provide cholesterol to sustain a high rate of membrane synthesis. Amphiphilic gadolinium (Gd)-diethylenetria-minepentaacetic acid chelates have been incorporated into the LDL to produce a novel LDLR-targeted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent. The number of Gd chelates per LDL particle ranged between 150 and 496 Gd(III). In vitro studies demonstrated that Gd-labeled LDL retained a similar diameter and surface charge as the native LDL particle. In addition, Gd-labeled LDL retained selective cellular binding and uptake through LDLR-mediated endocytosis. Finally, Gd-labeled LDLs exhibited significant contrast enhancement 24 hours after administration in nude mice with human hepatoblastoma G2 xenografts. Thus, Gd-labeled LDL demonstrates potential use as a targeted MRI contrast agent for in vivo tumor detection.