Synchrotron microangiography studies of angiogenesis in mice with microemulsions and gold nanoparticles
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We present an effective solution for the problem of contrast enhancement in phase-contrast microangiography, with the specific objective of visualising small (<8 µm) vessels in tumor-related microangiogenesis. Different hydrophilic and hydrophobic contrast agents were explored in this context. We found that an emulsified version of the hydrophobic contrast agents Lipiodol® provides the best contrast and minimal distortion of the circulation and vessel structure. Such emulsions are reasonably biocompatible and, with sizes of 0 ± 0.8 µm, sufficient to diffuse to the smallest vessel and still provide reasonable contrast. We also explored the use of Au nanoparticle colloids that could be used not only to enhance contrast but also for interesting applications in nanomedicine. Both the Lipiodol microemulsions and Au nanoparticle colloids can be conjugated with medicines or cell specific labeling agents and their small size can allow the study of the diffusion of contrast agents through the vessel leakage. This enables direct imaging of drug delivery which is important for cancer treatment.