• iron oxide nanoparticles;
  • superparamagnetism;
  • polyglycerol;
  • MRI;
  • molecular imaging;
  • contrast agent;
  • nanomedicine

Polyglycerol as a water-soluble and biocompatible hyperbranched polymer was covalently grafted on the surface of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. With this aim, superparamagnetic magnetite nanoparticles were prepared by coprecipitation in aqueous media, then the surface of nanoparticles was modified to introduce the reactive groups on the surface of nanoparticles. After that, polyglycerol was grafted on the surface of nanoparticles by ring-opening anionic polymerization of glycidol using n-bulyllithium as initiator. The magnetometry, relaxometry and phantom MRI experiments of this highly stable ferrofluid showed its high potential as a negative MRI contrast agent. Calculated r1 and r2 relaxivities at different magnetic fields were higher than the values reported for commercially available iron oxide contrast agents. The in vivo MRI studies showed that, after intravenous injection into mice, the particles produced a strong negative contrast in liver and kidneys, which persisted for 80 min (in liver) to 110 min (in kidneys). The negative contrast of the liver and kidneys weakened over the time, suggesting that polyglycerol coating renders the nanoparticles stealth and possibly optimal for renal excretion. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.