Biocompatible and pH-sensitive PLGA encapsulated MnO nanocrystals for molecular and cellular MRI

Margaret F. Bennewitz, Tricia L. Lobo, Michael K. Nkansah, Gözde Ulas, Gary W. Brudvig, Erik M. Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


Inorganic manganese-based particles are becoming attractive for molecular and cellular imaging, due to their ability to provide bright contrast on MRI, as opposed to the dark contrast generated from iron-based particles. Using a single emulsion technique, we have successfully fabricated pH-sensitive poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA)-encapsulated manganese oxide (MnO) nanocrystals. Two classes of particles were fabricated at ∼140 nm and 1.7 μm and incorporated 15 to 20 nm MnO nanocrystals with high encapsulation efficiencies. Intact particles at physiological pH cause little contrast in MRI, but following endocytosis into low pH compartments within the cells, the particles erode and MnO dissolves to release Mn2+. This causes the cells to appear bright on MR images. The magnitude of the change in MRI properties is as high as 35-fold, making it the most dynamic "smart" MRI contrast agent yet reported. Possible applications of these MnO particles include slow release Mn2+, tumor targeting, and confirmation of cell uptake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3438-3446
Number of pages9
JournalACS nano
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 24 2011


  • Cells
  • Contrast agents
  • MRI
  • Manganese
  • Microparticles
  • Nanoparticles
  • PLGA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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