Theranostics 2020; 10(14):6278-6309. doi:10.7150/thno.42564


Multifunctional magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles: an advanced platform for cancer theranostics

Shengzhe Zhao1,2,3,#, Xujiang Yu3,#, Yuna Qian2, Wei Chen1,✉, Jianliang Shen1,2,✉

1. State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Optometry and Vision Science, School of Ophthalmology & Optometry, School of Biomedical Engineering, Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou 325027, China
2. Wenzhou Institute, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wenzhou 32500, China.
3. State Key Lab of Metal Matrix Composites, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, China.
#These authors contributed equally to this work.

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Zhao S, Yu X, Qian Y, Chen W, Shen J. Multifunctional magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles: an advanced platform for cancer theranostics. Theranostics 2020; 10(14):6278-6309. doi:10.7150/thno.42564. Available from

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Multifunctional magnetic nanoparticles and derivative nanocomposites have aroused great concern for multimode imaging and cancer synergistic therapies in recent years. Among the rest, functional magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (Fe3O4 NPs) have shown great potential as an advanced platform because of their inherent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), biocatalytic activity (nanozyme), magnetic hyperthermia treatment (MHT), photo-responsive therapy and drug delivery for chemotherapy and gene therapy. Magnetic Fe3O4 NPs can be synthesized through several methods and easily surface modified with biocompatible materials or active targeting moieties. The MRI capacity could be appropriately modulated to induce response between T1 and T2 modes by controlling the size distribution of Fe3O4 NPs. Besides, small-size nanoparticles are also desired due to the enhanced permeation and retention (EPR) effect, thus the imaging and therapeutic efficiency of Fe3O4 NP-based platforms can be further improved. Here, we firstly retrospect the typical synthesis and surface modification methods of magnetic Fe3O4 NPs. Then, the latest biomedical application including responsive MRI, multimodal imaging, nanozyme, MHT, photo-responsive therapy and drug delivery, the mechanism of corresponding treatments and cooperation therapeutics of multifunctional Fe3O4 NPs are also be explained. Finally, we also outline a brief discussion and perspective on the possibility of further clinical translations of these multifunctional nanomaterials. This review would provide a comprehensive reference for readers to understand the multifunctional Fe3O4 NPs in cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Keywords: magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles, multifunctional nanoplatform, multimodal imaging, drug delivery, cancer diagnosis and treatment