Simultaneous diagnosis and drug delivery by silymarin-loaded magnetic nanoparticles

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Physics, University of Zanjan, Zanjan, Iran

2 Department of Pharmaceutical biomaterials, School of Pharmacy, Zanjan University of Medical Sciences, Zanjan Iran

3 Zanjan Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology Research Center, Zanjan University of Medical Sciences, Zanjan, Iran

4 Department of Medicinal Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, Zanjan University of Medical Sciences, Zanjan, Iran

5 Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


The aim of this work was to prepare and characterize magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) as theranostic system to act simultaneously as drug carrier and MRI contrast agent. Chitosan-coated MNPs (CMNPs) were prepared and loaded with silymarin. Silymarin-loaded CMNPs were characterized with various techniques and their potential as MRI contrast agent was also evaluated.

Materials and Methods:
The chitosan-coated MNPs were prepared by coprecipitation method and were loaded with silymarin. The synthesized nanoparticles were characterized by various techniques including SEM, TEM, X‐ray diffraction (XRD), FTIR and vibrating sample magnetometer (VSM). In vitro drug release of silymarin was evaluated at 37 ˚C at pH 5.3 and 7.4. Then, their proton relaxivity was evaluated to study the potential of CMNPs as MRI contrast agent in terms of r1 and r2.

Silymarin-loaded CMNPs were successfully prepared and characterized by FTIR and XRD techniques. VSM analysis revealed superparamagnetic properties of CMNPs. The release study showed that the maximum drug release accessible for CMNPs in pH=5.3 was higher than pH=7.4. Finally, the r2/r1 value of CMNPs was found to be close to 20 indicating that CMNPs has a strong efficiency as T2 contrast agents for MRI imaging. 

The findings demonstrated the potential of CMNPs as efficient MRI contrast agent as well as silymarin drug delivery.


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