In order to completely remove tumors in surgeries, probes are needed both preoperatively and intraoperatively. For tumor diagnosis, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been widely used as a precise preoperative method, and photoacoustic imaging (PAI) is a recently emerged intraoperative (or preoperative) method, which detects ultrasonic waves thermoelastically induced by optical absorbers irradiated by laser. Iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) can be used as both MR and PA imaging probes. In order to improve the sensitivity of IONPs as MR/PA imaging probes, we newly prepared liposomes encapsulated with a number of IONPs (Lipo-IONPs). Interestingly, Lipo-IONPs showed 2.6 and 3.8-times higher PA and MR signals, respectively, compared to dispersed IONPs at the same concentration. Furthermore, trastuzumab (Tra) (anti-human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (EGFR2; HER2) monoclonal antibody) was introduced onto the surface of liposomes for detection of HER2 related to tumor malignancy. In an cellular uptake study, Tra-Lipo-IONPs were taken up by HER2-positive tumor cells and HER2-specific MR/PA dual imaging was achieved. Finally, a biodistribution study using radiolabeled Tra-Lipo-IONPs showed HER2-specific tumor accumulation. In conclusion, we demonstrated the usefulness of Lipo-IONPs as platforms for sensitive MR/PA dual imaging and the possibility of HER2-specific tumor MR/PA imaging using Tra-Lipo-IONPs.
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