Send to

Choose Destination
Nanotheranostics. 2019 Mar 11;3(2):135-144. doi: 10.7150/ntno.29908. eCollection 2019.

Perfluorocarbon nanodroplets can reoxygenate hypoxic tumors in vivo without carbogen breathing.

Author information

Department of Medical Imaging, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
TECHNA Institute for the Advancement of Technology for Health, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Nanoscale perfluorocarbon (PFC) droplets have enormous potential as clinical theranostic agents. They are biocompatible and are currently used in vivo as contrast agents for a variety of medical imaging modalities, including ultrasound, computed tomography, photoacoustic and 19F-magnetic resonance imaging. PFC nanodroplets can also carry molecular and nanoparticulate drugs and be activated in situ by ultrasound or light for targeted therapy. Recently, there has been renewed interest in using PFC nanodroplets for hypoxic tumor reoxygenation towards radiosensitization based on the high oxygen solubility of PFCs. Previous studies showed that tumor oxygenation using PFC agents only occurs in combination with enhanced oxygen breathing. However, recent studies suggest that PFC agents that accumulate in solid tumors can contribute to radiosensitization, presumably due to tumor reoxygenation without enhanced oxygen breathing. In this study, we quantify the impact of oxygenation due to PFC nanodroplet accumulation in tumors alone in comparison with other reoxygenation methodologies, in particular, carbogen breathing. Methods: Lipid-stabilized, PFC (i.e., perfluorooctyl bromide, CF3(CF2)7Br, PFOB) nanoscale droplets were synthesized and evaluated in xenograft prostate (DU145) tumors in male mice. Biodistribution assessment of the nanodroplets was achieved using a fluorescent lipophilic indocarbocyanine dye label (i.e., DiI dye) on the lipid shell in combination with fluorescence imaging in mice (n≥3 per group). Hypoxia reduction in tumors was measured using PET imaging and a known hypoxia radiotracer, [18F]FAZA (n≥ 3 per group). Results: Lipid-stabilized nanoscale PFOB emulsions (mean diameter of ~250 nm), accumulated in the xenograft prostate tumors in mice 24 hours post-injection. In vivo PET imaging with [18F]FAZA showed that the accumulation of the PFOB nanodroplets in the tumor tissues alone significantly reduced tumor hypoxia, without enhanced oxygen (i.e., carbogen) breathing. This reoxygenation effect was found to be comparable with carbogen breathing alone. Conclusion: Accumulation of nanoscale PFOB agents in solid tumors alone successfully reoxygenated hypoxic tumors to levels comparable with carbogen breathing alone, an established tumor oxygenation method. This study confirms that PFC agents can be used to reoxygenate hypoxic tumors in addition to their current applications as multifunctional theranostic agents.


PET imaging; nanodroplets; perfluorocarbon; reoxygenation; tumor hypoxia

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interest exists.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Ivyspring International Publisher Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center