Developing multifunctional and biocompatible drug delivery nanoplatforms that integrate high drug loads and multiple imaging modalities avoiding cross-interferences is extremely challenging. Here we report on the successful chemical reaction of the high quantum yield biodegradable and photoluminescent polyester (BPLP) with the poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) polymer to fabricate biocompatible photoluminescent nanocapsules (NCs). Furthermore, we transform the PLGA-BPLP NCs into a magnetic resonance (MR)/photoluminescence dual-modal imaging theranostic platform by incorporating superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) into the polymeric shell. In vitro phantoms confirmed the excellent MRI-r2
relaxivity values of the NCs whilst the cellular uptake of these NCs was clearly observed by fluorescence optical imaging. Besides, the NCs (mean size ~270 nm) were loaded with ~1 wt% of a model protein (BSA) and their PEGylation provided a more hydrophilic surface. The NCs show biocompatibility in vitro, as hCMEC/D3 endothelial cells viability was not affected for particle concentration up to 500 μg/mL. Interestingly, NCs decorated with SPIONs can be exploited for magnetic guiding and retention.
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