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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2018, Article ID 5837276, 15 pages
Review Article

Gold Nanoparticles as X-Ray, CT, and Multimodal Imaging Contrast Agents: Formulation, Targeting, and Methodology

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Binghamton University (SUNY), Binghamton, NY 13902, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Amber L. Doiron; ude.notmahgnib@norioda

Received 28 July 2017; Accepted 22 January 2018; Published 7 March 2018

Academic Editor: Faheem Ahmed

Copyright © 2018 Matthew M. Mahan and Amber L. Doiron. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Computed tomography (CT) is among the most popular medical imaging modalities due to its high resolution images, fast scan time, low cost, and compatibility with all patients. CT scans of soft tissues require the localization of imaging contrast agents (CA) to create contrast, revealing anatomic information. Gold nanoparticles (AuNP) have attracted interest recently for their use as CT CA due to their high X-ray attenuation, simple surface chemistry, and biocompatibility. Targeting molecules may be attached to the particles to allow for the targeting of specific cell types and disease states. AuNP can also be readily designed to incorporate other imaging contrast agents such as rare earth metals and dyes. This review summarizes the current state-of-the-art knowledge in the field of AuNP used as X-ray and multimodal contrast agents. Primary research is analyzed through the lens of structure-property-function to best explain the design of a particle for a given application. Design specification of particles includes size, shape, surface functionalization, composition, circulation time, and component synergy. Key considerations include delivery of a CA payload to the site of interest, nontoxicity of particle components, and contrast enhancement compared to the surrounding tissue. Examples from literature are included to illustrate the strategies used to address design considerations.