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Nanomedicine (Lond). 2012 Nov;7(11):1697-711. doi: 10.2217/nnm.12.65. Epub 2012 Jul 26.

Preliminary study of injury from heating systemically delivered, nontargeted dextran-superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles in mice.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 1550 Orleans Street, CRB I, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA.



To assess the potential for injury to normal tissues in mice due to heating systemically delivered magnetic nanoparticles in an alternating magnetic field (AMF).


Twenty three male nude mice received intravenous injections of dextran-superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles on days 1-3. On day 6, they were exposed to AMF. On day 7, blood, liver and spleen were harvested and analyzed.


Iron deposits were detected in the liver and spleen. Mice that had received a high-particle dose and a high AMF experienced increased mortality, elevated liver enzymes and significant liver and spleen necrosis. Mice treated with low-dose superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles and a low AMF survived, but had elevated enzyme levels and local necrosis in the spleen.


Magnetic nanoparticles producing only modest heat output can cause damage, and even death, when sequestered in sufficient concentrations. Dextran-superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles are deposited in the liver and spleen, making these the sites of potential toxicity. Original submitted 16 August 2011; Revised submitted 21 March 2012; Published online 26 July 2012.

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