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Purpose Radiolabeled antibodies and peptides hold promise for molecular radiotherapy but are often limited by a low payload resulting in inadequate delivery of radioactivity to tumour tissue and, therefore, modest therapeutic effect. We developed a facile synthetic method of radiolabeling indium-111 (111In) to epidermal growth factor (EGF)-gold nanoparticles (111In-EGF-Au NP) with a high payload. Materials and methods EGF-Au NP were prepared via an interaction between gold and the disulphide bonds of EGF and radiolabeled using 111InCl3. Targeting efficiency was investigated by quantitating internalized radioactivity and by confocal imaging following exposure of MDA-MB-468 (1.3 × 106 EGFR/cell) and MCF-7 (104 EGFR/cell) cells to Cy3-EGF-Au NP. Cytotoxicity was evaluated in clonogenic assays. Results The proportion of total administered radioactivity that was internalized by MDA-MB-468 and MCF-7 cells was 15% and 1.3%, respectively (mixing ratio of EGF:Au of 160). This differential uptake in the two cell lines was confirmed using confocal microscopy. 111In-EGF-Au NP were significantly more radiotoxic to MDA-MB-468 than MCF-7 cells with a surviving fraction of 17.1 ± 4.4% versus 89.8 ± 1.4% (p < 0.001) after exposure for 4 h. Conclusions An 111In-labeled EGF-Au nanosystem was developed. It enabled targeted delivery of a high 111In payload specifically to EGFR-positive cancer cells leading to radiotoxicity that can be exploited for molecularly targeted radiotherapy.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Radiat Biol

Publication Date





716 - 723


Auger electron emitters, EGF, Gold nanoparticles, Indium-111, targeted radiotherapy, Cell Survival, Coated Materials, Biocompatible, Epidermal Growth Factor, ErbB Receptors, Gold, Humans, Indium Radioisotopes, MCF-7 Cells, Metal Nanoparticles, Molecular Targeted Therapy, Nanocapsules, Neoplasms, Experimental, Radiopharmaceuticals, Treatment Outcome