Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) have recently been used as an effective magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent for the noninvasive diagnosis of chronic liver diseases including nonalcohol fatty liver diseases, nonalcohol steatohepatitis, and cirrhosis as well as liver tumors. However, the potential risk of the iron overload by SPIONs has been highly underestimated in chronic liver diseases. While most of SPIONs have been shown safe in the healthy group, significant toxicity potential by the iron overload has been revealed through immunotoxicity, lipid peroxidation, and fatty acid and cholesterol metabolism in cirrhosis as a high risk factor. As a result, the systems toxicology assessments of SPIONs are crucial in both healthy ones and chronic liver disease models to determine the margin of safety. In addition, the challenge of the iron overload by SPIONs requires better designed SPIONs as MRI contrast agents for chronic liver diseases such as the biodegradable nanocluster assembly with urine clearance.
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Corresponding Author *Phone: 86-27-87792147. Fax: 86-27-87794517. E-mail: email@example.com. Funding This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81671812 and 81372403). Notes The authors declare no competing financial interest. Biographies Dr. Qibing Zhou is the chair of Department of Nanomedicine & Biopharmaceuticals (from 2012 to 2016) and full professor at the College of Life Science and Technology, Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China. Dr. Zhou received his Ph.D. degree in the US from University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He had his postdoctoral training at University of Maryland, College Park and initiated his own research group in the US at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. His current research includes the development of quinoxaline conjugates as an anticancer agent and nanomaterials as a safe contrast agent for cancer detection.
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