For Better or Worse, Iron Overload by Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles as a MRI Contrast Agent for Chronic Liver Diseases
Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) have recently been used as an effective magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent for the noninvasive diagnosis of chronic liver diseases including nonalcohol fatty liver diseases, nonalcohol steatohepatitis, and cirrhosis as well as liver tumors. However, the potential risk of the iron overload by SPIONs has been highly underestimated in chronic liver diseases. While most of SPIONs have been shown safe in the healthy group, significant toxicity potential by the iron overload has been revealed through immunotoxicity, lipid peroxidation, and fatty acid and cholesterol metabolism in cirrhosis as a high risk factor. As a result, the systems toxicology assessments of SPIONs are crucial in both healthy ones and chronic liver disease models to determine the margin of safety. In addition, the challenge of the iron overload by SPIONs requires better designed SPIONs as MRI contrast agents for chronic liver diseases such as the biodegradable nanocluster assembly with urine clearance. Graphic Abstract
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