Using DLS, ELS and SAXS to Study Ferric Nanoparticles Stabilized Using Different Oligosaccharides

DLS and SAXS complement each other very well, since not only the particle size can be determined, but also information about particle shape and core-shell structures can be obtained. In addition, zeta potential measurements provide data about the stability of the sample. In the present application report we highlight the complementary results beneficial for characterizing different iron formulations for medical applications.


Depending on age, health condition and weight, the human body natural contains iron in a quantity of 2 to 4 grams. The main part of the body’s iron is bound to hemoglobin, which creates a protein complex that is able to bind the oxygen in the red blood cells. The other part binds to hemosiderin, myoglobin, ferritin and enzymes, in which iron is stored and released to the organism, if needed. Iron deficiency is one of the most widespread nutritional deficiencies worldwide. Causes of iron deficiency can be the following:

  • Insufficient absorption, such as insufficient intake of food or malnutrition
  • Increased demand, in case of pregnancy, lactation or children and adolescents in growth
  • Increased loss, like acute or chronic blood loss or surgeries

Women of childbearing age, persons of advanced age, athletes and patients with chronic inflammatory diseases are at a particularly high risk of iron deficiency, and thus also anemia. In these cases, substitution with different iron preparations is needed. There are different established treatments available for treating a lack of iron and anemia, such as tablets, infusion solutions or multivitamins. Since high molecular weight iron preparations are often associated with complications, only low molecular weight preparations such as iron sucrose, ferric carboxymaltose or sodium ferric gluconate are used. These kinds of iron preparations are colloidal dispersions with particles in the lower nanometer range. The particles are composed of an iron core stabilized by a carbohydrate shell. Iron cannot be injected directly into the bloodstream, therefore, iron carbohydrate complexes are used, which allow controlled release and absorption of the iron into the cells. The iron released in the cells is passed on to ferritin and transferrin and is then used in the body. In order to fulfill the strict requirements for pharmaceutical products, injections have to be characterized and tested thoroughly before they can be sold and administered. In this application report, we characterize and analyze two different ferric nanoparticle formulations by means of their size, shape and zeta potential using two complementary techniques: DLS/ELS (dynamic and electrophoretic light scattering) and SAXS (small-angle X-ray scattering) highlighting the complementary results beneficial for characterizing different iron formulations[1].


1. Pal, Amy Barton. Complexity of intravenous iron nanoparticle formulations: implications for bioequivalence evaluation. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1-9, 2017

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