Iron oxide nanoparticulate system as a cornerstone in the effective delivery of Tc-99 m radionuclide: a potential molecular imaging probe for tumor diagnosis

  • Mohamed M. SwidanEmail author
  • Omnya M. Khowessah
  • Mohamed Abd El-Motaleb
  • Ahmed Abd El-Bary
  • Mohamed T. El-Kolaly
  • Tamer M. SakrEmail author
Research Article



The evolution of nanoparticles has gained prominence as platforms for developing diagnostic and/or therapeutic radiotracers. This study aims to develop a novel technique for fabricating a tumor diagnostic probe based on iron oxide nanoparticles excluding the utilization of chelating ligands.


Tc-99 m radionuclide was loaded into magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles platform (MIONPs) by sonication. 99mTc-encapsulated MIONPs were fully characterized concerning particles size, charge, radiochemical purity, encapsulation efficiency, in-vitro stability and cytotoxicity. These merits were biologically evaluated in normal and solid tumor bearing mice via different delivery approaches.


99mTc-encapsulated MIONPs probe was synthesized with average particle size 24.08 ± 7.9 nm, hydrodynamic size 52 nm, zeta potential -28 mV, radiolabeling yield 96 ± 0.83%, high in-vitro physiological stability, and appropriate cytotoxicity behavior. The in-vivo evaluation in solid tumor bearing mice revealed that the maximum tumor radioactivity accumulation (25.39 ± 0.57, 36.40 ± 0.59 and 72.61 ± 0.82%ID/g) was accomplished at 60, 60 and 30 min p.i. for intravenous, intravenous with physical magnet targeting and intratumoral delivery, respectively. The optimum T/NT ratios of 57.70, 65.00 and 87.48 were demonstrated at 60 min post I.V., I.V. with physical magnet targeting and I.T. delivery, respectively. These chemical and biological characteristics of our prepared nano-probe demonstrate highly advanced merits over the previously reported chelator mediated radiolabeled nano-formulations which reported maximum tumor uptakes in the scope of 3.65 ± 0.19 to 16.21 ± 2.56%ID/g.


Stabilized encapsulation of 99mTc radionuclide into MIONPs elucidates a novel strategy for developing an advanced nano-sized radiopharmaceutical for tumor diagnosis.

Graphical abstract

99mTc-encapsulated MIONPs nanosized-radiopharmaceutical as molecular imaging probe for tumor diagnosis


Magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles Tc-99 m radionuclide Chelator free radiolabeling Encapsulation Tumor delivery Tumor diagnosis 



Associate Prof. Tamer M. Sakr expresses his grateful appreciation and thanks for International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) for international collaboration and funding this work under CRP No. F22064.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Labeled Compounds DepartmentHot Labs Center, Egyptian Atomic Energy AuthorityCairoEgypt
  2. 2.Pharmaceutics and Industrial Pharmacy Department, Faculty of PharmacyCairo UniversityCairoEgypt
  3. 3.Radioactive Isotopes and Generator DepartmentHot Labs Center, Egyptian Atomic Energy AuthorityCairoEgypt
  4. 4.Pharmaceutical Chemistry Department, Faculty of PharmacyModern Sciences and Arts University6th October CityEgypt

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