Colloidally stable nanoparticles-based magnetic agents endowed with very high relaxivity and specific absorption rate are extremely desirable for efficient magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic hyperthermia, respectively. Here, we report a water dispersible magnetic agent consisting of zinc-doped superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (i.e., Zn-SPIONs) of 15 nm size with high saturation magnetization coated with an amphiphilic polymer for effective magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic hyperthermia of glioblastoma cells. These biocompatible polymer-coated Zn-SPIONs had 24 nm hydrodynamic diameter and exhibited high colloidal stability in various aqueous media, very high transverse relaxivity of 471 mM-1 s-1, and specific absorption rate up to 743.8 W g-1, which perform better than most iron oxide nanoparticles reported in the literature, including commercially available agents. Therefore, using these polymer-coated Zn-SPIONs even at low concentrations, T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging and moderate magnetic hyperthermia of glioblastoma cells under clinically relevant magnetic field were successfully implemented. In addition, the results of this in vitro study suggest the superior potential of Zn-SPIONs as a theranostic nanosystem for brain cancer treatment, simultaneously acting as a contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging and a heat mediator for localized magnetic hyperthermia.
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