Biocompatibility of ferritin-based nanoparticles as targeted MRI contrast agents

Jennifer R. Charlton, Valeria M. Pearl, Anna R. Denotti, Jonathan B. Lee, Sundararaman Swaminathan, Yogesh M. Scindia, Nathan P. Charlton, Edwin J. Baldelomar, Scott C. Beeman, Kevin M. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Ferritin is a naturally occurring iron storage protein, proposed as a clinically relevant nanoparticle with applications as a diagnostic and therapeutic agent. Cationic ferritin is a targeted, injectable contrast agent to measure kidney microstructure with MRI. Here, the toxicity of horse spleen ferritin is assessed as a step to clinical translation. Adult male mice received cationic, native and high dose cationic ferritin (CF, NF, or HDCF) or saline and were monitored for 3 weeks. Transient weight loss occurred in the ferritin groups with no difference in renal function parameters. Ferritin-injected mice demonstrated a lower serum iron 3 weeks after administration. In ferritin-injected animals pre-treated with hydrocortisone, there were no structural or weight differences in the kidneys, liver, lung, heart, or spleen. This study demonstrates a lack of significant detrimental effects of horse-derived ferritin-based nanoparticles at MRI-detectable doses, allowing further exploration of these agents in basic research and clinical diagnostics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1735-1745
Number of pages11
JournalNanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cationic ferritin
  • Ferritin
  • Kidney
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Nephron number
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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