Near-infrared fluorescent aza-BODIPY dye-loaded biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles for optical cancer imaging

  • Casey L. Hamon
  • Christopher L. Dorsey
  • Tuğba Özel
  • Eugenia M. Barnes
  • Todd W. Hudnall
  • Tania Betancourt
Research Paper


Nanoparticles are being readily investigated as carriers for the delivery of imaging and therapeutic agents for the detection, monitoring, and treatment of cancer and other diseases. In the present work, the preparation of biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles loaded with a near-infrared fluorescent aza-boron dipyrromethene (NIR-BODIPY) derivative, and their use as contrast agents for optical imaging in cancer are described. Nanoparticles were prepared by nanoprecipitation of amphiphilic block copolymers of poly(lactic acid) and poly(ethylene glycol). The size, morphology, dye loading, spectral properties, quantum yield, cytocompatibility, and in vitro NIR imaging potential of the nanoparticles in breast and ovarian cancer cells were evaluated. Spherical nanoparticles of 30–70 nm in diameter were loaded with 0.73 w/w% BODIPY derivative. At this loading, the dye presented a fluorescence quantum yield in the same order of magnitude as in solution. Nanoparticle suspensions at concentrations up to 580 μg/mL were cytocompatible to breast (MDA-MB-231) and ovarian (SKOV-3 and Caov-3) cancer cells after a four-hour incubation period. Fluorescence microscopy images demonstrated the ability of the nanoparticles to act as imaging agents in all three cell lines in as little as 1 hour. The results shown indicate the potential of these NIR-BODIPY-loaded nanoparticles as contrast agents for near-infrared optical imaging in cancer.

Graphical abstract


Nanomedicine Near-infrared fluorescence Optical imaging Block copolymers Biodegradable polymers Quantum yield 



This research was supported in part by the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (startup funds for TB), the National Science Foundation Partnership in Research and Education in Materials (PREM, DMR-1205670), and the Robert A. Welch Foundation (AI-0045).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests regarding publication of this paper.

Supplementary material

11051_2016_3518_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 2093 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Casey L. Hamon
    • 1
  • Christopher L. Dorsey
    • 1
  • Tuğba Özel
    • 2
  • Eugenia M. Barnes
    • 1
  • Todd W. Hudnall
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tania Betancourt
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA
  2. 2.Materials Science, Engineering, and Commercialization ProgramTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA

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