Hyaluronic acid formulation of near infrared fluorophores optimizes surgical imaging in a prostate tumor xenograft

Joshua J. Souchek, Nicholas E. Wojtynek, William M. Payne, Megan B. Holmes, Samikshan Dutta, Bowen Qi, Kaustubh Datta, Chad A. LaGrange, Aaron M. Mohs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The presence of positive surgical margins confers an increased risk of biochemical relapse and need for salvage therapy in men undergoing radical prostatectomy. Image-guided surgery using near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent contrast agents is a potential method to detect remaining cancerous tissue. The objective of this study was to evaluate three hyaluronic acid (HA) nanoparticle (NP) formulations loaded with NIR fluorophore for their ability to contrast-enhance prostate cancer. HA was modified by conjugation with the hydrophobic ligand, aminopropyl-1-pyrenebutanamide to drive nanoparticle self-assembly. Indocyanine green (ICG) was physicochemically entrapped in the HA-NP, termed NanoICG. Alternatively, Cy7.5 was directly conjugated to amphiphilic HA, termed NanoCy7.5. NanoCy7.5 was synthesized with two HA molecular weights to determine the HA size contribution to delivery to PC3 prostate tumor xenografts. Contrast-enhancement of the tumors and relative biodistribution were assessed by a series of fluorescence imaging, image-guided surgery with spectroscopy, and microscopic techniques. Intravenously administered NanoICG improved tumor signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) at 24 h over ICG by 2.9-fold. NanoCy7.5 with 10 kDa and 100 kDa HA improved tumor SNR by 6.6- and 3.1-fold over Cy7.5 alone, respectively. The PC3 xenograft was clearly identified with the image-guided system providing increased contrast enhancement compared to surrounding tissue for NanoICG and NanoCy7.5 with 10 kDa HA. NIR fluorescence microscopy showed that Cy7.5 in NPs with 10 kDa HA were distributed throughout the tumor, while NanoCy7.5 with 100 kDa HA or NanoICG delivered dye mainly to the edge of the tumor. CD31 staining suggested that PC3 tumors are poorly vascularized. These studies demonstrate the efficacy of a panel of HA-derived NPs in identifying prostate tumors in vivo, and suggest that by tuning the structural properties of these NPs, optimized delivery can be achieved to poorly vascularized tumors. Statement of Significance: We have demonstrated the potential of a panel of near-infrared fluorescent (NIRF) nanoparticles (NPs) for image-guided surgery in a prostate cancer xenograft model. Image-guided surgery and imaging of organs ex vivo showed greater tumor signal and contrast when mice were administered NIRF dyes that were covalently conjugated to (NanoCy7.510k-PBA) or physicochemically entrapped in (NanoICGPBA) hyaluronic acid (HA) NPs, compared to free dyes. These results show the potential to use these NPs as tools to detect the margins of tumors and to differentiate healthy and tumor tissue intraoperatively. Moreover, this project provides insight into selecting optimal formulation strategies for poorly vascularized tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-333
Number of pages11
JournalActa Biomaterialia
StatePublished - Jul 15 2018


  • Cy7.5
  • ICG
  • Intraoperative imaging
  • Nanoparticle
  • Polymer conjugate
  • Self-assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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