Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 99, Issue 2, pp 163–176

LHRH-conjugated Magnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles for Detection of Breast Cancer Metastases

  • Carola Leuschner
  • Challa SSR Kumar
  • William Hansel
  • Wole Soboyejo
  • Jikou Zhou
  • Josef Hormes
Preclinical study

DOI: 10.1007/s10549-006-9199-7

Cite this article as:
Leuschner, C., Kumar, C.S., Hansel, W. et al. Breast Cancer Res Treat (2006) 99: 163. doi:10.1007/s10549-006-9199-7


Targeted delivery of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) could facilitate their accumulation in metastatic cancer cells in peripheral tissues, lymph nodes and bones and enhance the sensitivity of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The specificities of luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH) and luteinizing hormone/chorionic gonadotropin (LH/CG)- bound SPIONs were tested in human breast cancer cells in vitro and were found to be dependent on the receptor expression of the target cells, the time of incubation and showed saturation kinetics. In incubations with MDA-MB-435S.luc cells, the highest iron accumulation was 452.6 pg Fe/cell with LHRH-SPIONs, 203.6 pg Fe/cell with β-CG-SPIONs and 51.3 pg Fe/cell with SPIONs. Incubations at 4 °C resulted in 1.1 pg Fe/cell. Co-incubation with the same ligands (βCG or LHRH) decreased the iron accumulation in each case. LHRH-SPIONs were poorly incorporated by macrophages. Tumors and metastatic cells from breast cancer xenografts were targeted in vivo in a nude mouse model. LHRH-SPION specifically accumulated in cells of human breast cancer xenografts. The amount of LHRH-SPION in the lungs was directly dependent on the number of metastatic cells and amounted to 77.8 pg Fe/metastastic cell. In contrast, unconjugated SPIONs accumulated in the liver, showed poor affinity to the tumor, and were not detectable in metastatic lesions in the lungs. LHRH-SPION accumulated in the cytosolic compartment of the target cells and formed clusters. LHRH-SPIONs did not accumulate in livers of normal mice. In conclusion, LHRH conjugated SPIONs may serve as a contrast agent for MR imaging in vivo and increase the sensitivity for the detection of metastases and disseminated cells in lymph nodes, bones and peripheral organs.

Key words

breast cancerchorionic gonadotropin receptorsluteinizing hormone releasing hormone receptorsmetastasesnanoparticlessuperparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles



luteinizing hormone releasing hormone


chorionic gonadotropin


fragment of the beta chain of CG from amino acid 81–95


magnetic resonance imaging


superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles


computed tomography


positron emission tomography


Chinese Hamster Ovary Cells


4α Porbol 12 myristate 13 acetate



Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carola Leuschner
    • 1
    • 5
  • Challa SSR Kumar
    • 2
  • William Hansel
    • 1
  • Wole Soboyejo
    • 3
  • Jikou Zhou
    • 4
  • Josef Hormes
    • 2
  1. 1.Pennington Biomedical Research CenterLSU SystemBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2. Center for Advanced Microsystems and DevicesLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  3. 3.Princeton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  4. 4.Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory LivermoreUSA
  5. 5.Reproductive BiotechnologyPennington Biomedical Research CenterBaton RougeUSA