SCIENCE CHINA Life Sciences, Volume 61 , Issue 4 : 400-414(2018) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11427-017-9271-1

Magnetic nanoparticles based cancer therapy: current status and applications

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  • ReceivedDec 23, 2017
  • AcceptedJan 15, 2018
  • PublishedApr 3, 2018



The authors acknowledge financial support provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81571809, 81771981, 31400663, and 21376192) and the Natural Science Foundation of Shaanxi Province (2015JM2063 and 2017JM2031).

Interest statement

The author(s) declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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  • Figure 1

    (Color online) The fundamentals of the magnetic nanoparticles.

  • Figure 2

    (Color online) The hysteresis loop for the (A) superparamagnetic (B) ferrimagnetic vortex-domain and (C) multi-domain nanoparticle.

  • Figure 3

    (Color online) The FDA-approved iron oxide nanoparticle drug (ferumoxytol) changes the polarization of tumour-associated macrophages from an anti-inflammatory M2 phenotype to a pro-inflammatory M1 phenotype. M1 polarized macrophages potentially release ROS, which may induce apoptotic cell death characterized by an increase in cleaved caspase-3 (with permission from Tarangelo and Dixon, 2016).

  • Figure 4

    (Color online) Magnetic nanoparticles as drug carriers. A, Formation of Dox@TCL-SPIONs (with permission from Yu et al., 2008). B, Schematic illustration of cisplatin loading into a PHNP and functionalization of Herceptin (with permission from Cheng et al., 2009). C, Proposed mechanism for drug encapsulation and release process of iron oxide nanoparticles coated with thermosensitive hydrogel shell (with permission from Liu et al., 2008). D, Schematic illustration of the thin shell with a proposed mechanism for controlled release of the fluorescence dye (with permission from Hu et al., 2008).

  • Figure 5

    (Color online) Exchange-coupled magnetic nanoparticle as high-performance magnetic hyperthermia agent. A, (Left) Schematic drawing of core-shell nanoparticle with an exchange-coupled magnetism, and (Right) M-H curve of 15 nm CoFe2O4@MnFe2O4, 15 nm MnFe2O4 and 9 nm CoFe2O4 nanoparticles measured at 5 K using a SQUID magnetometer. The magnetization curve of the core-shell nanoparticle (red curve) shows the hard-soft exchange-coupled magnetism with a smooth hysteresis curve. Inset: M-H curve of CoFe2O4@MnFe2O4 at 300 K, showing its superparamagnetic nature with zero coercivity. B, Schematic of 15 nm CoFe2O4@MnFe2O4 nanoparticle and its SLP value compared with the values for its components (9 nm CoFe2O4 and 15 nm MnFe2O4). C, Schematics of in vivo magnetic hyperthermia treatment in a mouse. Magnetic nanoparticles were directly injected into the tumour of a mouse and an AC magnetic field was applied. D, Nude mice xenografted with cancer cells (U87MG) before treatment (upper row, dotted circle) and 18 days after treatment (lower row) with untreated control, CoFe2O4@MnFe2O4 hyperthermia, Feridex hyperthermia and doxorubicin, respectively. The same amounts (75 mg) of nanoparticles and doxorubicin were injected into the tumour (tumour volume, 100 mm3,n=3). (with permission from Lee et al., 2011)

  • Figure 6

    Ferrimagnetic vortex-domain iron oxide nanoparticle as a promising hyperthermia therapeutic agent. A, TEM image of FVIOs dyed with ruthenium tetroxide (RuO4) in order to obtain a sufficient contrast for surface coating mPEG layer. B, Lorentz TEM image of FVIOs. C, Graph showing experimental and calculated average hysteresis loops for FVIOs. D, Schematics showing the effect of magnetic hyperthermia treatment on tumor cells in a mouse model. Magnetic nanoparticles were directly injected into the tumor of a mouse and an AC magnetic field was applied. E, Nude mice xenografted with breast cancer cells (MCF-7) before treatment (upper row, dotted circle) and 40 days after treatment (lower row) with untreated control, Resovist hyperthermia and FVIOs hyperthermia, respectively. F, Plot of tumor volume (V/Vinitial) versus days after treatment with FVIOs hyperthermia, Resovist hyperthermia, and untreated control. (with permission from Liu et al., 2015)

  • Figure 7

    Magnetic nanoparticle as photothermal therapeutic agents. A, Whole body and tumor fluorescence images in tumor-bearing mice after intravenous injection of 200 μL of indocyanine green-labeled Fe3O4 nanoparticles at a concentration of 5 mg mL−1 Fe3O4. B, Thermographs of tumor-bearing mice that received photothermal treatment for different periods of time (with permission from Guo et al., 2016). C, Thermal images obtained with the IR camera in mice, after intratumoral injection of nanocubes (50 μL at [Fe]=250 mmol L−1), in the left-hand tumor, and after 10 min application of magnetic hyperthermia (MHT, 110 kHz, 12 mT), NIR-laser irradiation (LASER, 808 nm at 0.3 W cm−2), or DUAL (both effects). D, Average tumor growth (groups of six tumors each in non-injected mice submitted to no treatment (control) and in nanocube-injected mice exposed to MHT, LASER, and DUAL during the 8 days following the 3 days of treatment (with permission from Espinosa et al., 2016). E, Schematic representation of enhanced hyperthermia by using mitochondria-targeting iron oxide nanoparticles (with permission from Jung et al., 2015).

  • Figure 8

    (Color online) Magnetic nanoparticle as theranostic nanoplatform. A, In vivo ultrasmall MnFe2O4 nanoparticles enhanced MR images (with permission from Fan et al., 2017). B, Schematic illustration of MFMSNs (with permission from Kim et al., 2017). C, Schematic showing the fabrication process of IONP@PPy-PEG nanocomposite (with permission from Song et al., 2014).


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