Matrix-dependent size modifications of iron oxide nanoparticles (Ferumoxytol) spiked into rat blood cells and plasma: Characterisation with TEM, AF4-UV-MALS-ICP-MS/MS and spICP-MS

Kenneth C Nwoko (Corresponding Author), Andrea Raab, Lesley Cheyne, Dana Dawson, Eva Krupp, Jörg Feldmann

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Engineered nanoparticles such as iron oxide (Fe3O4) nanoparticles (IONPs) offer several benefits in nanomedicine, notably as contrast agents in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Ferumoxytol, a suspension of IONPs (with a manufacturer's reported particle diameter of 27 nm-30 nm) was characterized as a standard by spiking into rat blood plasma and cell fractions. Nanoparticle separation, and characterisation was investigated with asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation (AF4) coupled online to ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy (UV-VIS), multi-angle light scattering (MALS) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) detectors; also with single particle inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (spICP-MS) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). MALS signal of pristine Ferumoxytol indicated radii of gyration (Rg) between 15 and 28 nm for the Fe-containing fraction and 30-75 nm for the non-Fe fraction. IONPs spiked into blood plasma indicated a polydisperse distribution between 40 nm - 120 nm suggesting matrix-induced size alterations. Spiking of the IONPs into cells showed a shift in ICP-MS Fe signal to 15 min, however the MALS signal was undetected within the Fe containing fraction of the IONPs suggesting NP loss due to membrane-particle attraction. spICP-MS analysis of IONPs spiked in rat plasma suggested the release of Fe-containing colloids into plasma causing an increase in diameter of IONPs to 52 ± 0.8 nm; whereas no major variation in particle size and distribution of the IONPs spiked in cell fractions was observed (33.2 ± 2.0 nm) suggesting non-alteration of the NP Fe core. A complementary application of microscopic, light scattering, and mass spectrometry techniques for the characterisation of NPs in challenging biological matrices like blood has been demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-365
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Chromatography B
Early online date24 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2019



  • Ferumoxytol
  • Nanoparticles
  • Blood
  • Plasma
  • Cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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