Heat-generating iron oxide nanocubes: Subtle "destructurators" of the tumoral microenvironment

Jelena Kolosnjaj-Tabi, Riccardo Di Corato, Lénaic Lartigue, Iris Marangon, Pablo Guardia, Amanda K.A. Silva, Nathalie Luciani, Olivier Clément, Patrice Flaud, Jaykrishna V. Singh, Paolo Decuzzi, Teresa Pellegrino, Claire Wilhelm, Florence Gazeau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

181 Scopus citations


Several studies propose nanoparticles for tumor treatment, yet little is known about the fate of nanoparticles and intimate interactions with the heterogeneous and ever-evolving tumor environment. The latter, rich in extracellular matrix, is responsible for poor penetration of therapeutics and represents a paramount issue in cancer therapy. Hence new strategies start aiming to modulate the neoplastic stroma. From this perspective, we assessed the efficacy of 19 nm PEG-coated iron oxide nanocubes with optimized magnetic properties to mediate mild tumor magnetic hyperthermia treatment. After injection of a low dose of nanocubes (700 μg of iron) into epidermoid carcinoma xenografts in mice, we monitored the effect of heating nanocubes on tumor environment. In comparison with the long-term fate after intravenous administration, we investigated spatiotemporal patterns of nanocube distribution, evaluated the evolution of cubes magnetic properties, and examined nanoparticle clearance and degradation processes. While inside tumors nanocubes retained their magnetic properties and heating capacity throughout the treatment due to a mainly interstitial extracellular location, the particles became inefficient heaters after cell internalization and transfer to spleen and liver. Our multiscale analysis reveals that collagen-rich tumor extracellular matrix confines the majority of nanocubes. However, nanocube-mediated hyperthermia has the potential to "destructure" this matrix and improve nanoparticle and drug penetration into neoplastic tissue. This study provides insight into dynamic interactions between nanoparticles and tumor components under physical stimulation and suggests that nanoparticle-mediated hyperthermia could be used to locally modify tumor stroma and thus improve drug penetration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4268-4283
Number of pages16
JournalACS Nano
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 27 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer treatment
  • collagen
  • extracellular matrix
  • iron oxide nanoparticles
  • magnetic hyperthermia
  • tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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