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Biodistribution and fate of core-labeled (125)I polymeric nanocarriers prepared by Flash NanoPrecipitation (FNP).


Non-invasive medical imaging techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET) imaging are powerful platforms to track the fate of radiolabeled materials for diagnostic or drug delivery applications. Polymer-based nanocarriers tagged with non-standard PET radionuclides with relatively long half-lives (e.g. (64)Cu: t1/2 = 12.7 h, (76)Br: t1/2 = 16.2h, (89)Zr: t1/2 = 3.3 d, (124)I: t1/2 = 4.2 d) may greatly expand applications of nanomedicines in molecular imaging and therapy. However, radiolabeling strategies that ensure stable in vivo association of the radiolabel with the nanocarrier remain a significant challenge. In this study, we covalently attach radioiodine to the core of pre-fabricated nanocarriers. First, we encapsulated polyvinyl phenol within a poly(ethylene glycol) coating using Flash NanoPrecipitation (FNP) to produce stable 75 nm and 120 nm nanocarriers. Following FNP, we radiolabeled the encapsulated polyvinyl phenol with (125)I via electrophilic aromatic substitution in high radiochemical yields (> 90%). Biodistribution studies reveal low radioactivity in the thyroid, indicating minimal leaching of the radiolabel in vivo. Further, PEGylated [(125)I]PVPh nanocarriers exhibited relatively long circulation half-lives (t1/2 α = 2.9 h, t1/2 β = 34.9 h) and gradual reticuloendothelial clearance, with 31% of injected dose in blood retained at 24 h post-injection.