Propagation of small amyloid beta (Aβ) aggregates (or seeds) has been suggested as a potential mechanism of Alzheimer’s disease progression. Monitoring the propagation of Aβ seeds in an organism would enable testing of this hypothesis and, if confirmed, provide mechanistic insights. This requires a contrast agent for long-term tracking of the seeds. Gold nanorods combine several attractive features for this challenging task, in particular, their strong absorbance in the infrared (enabling optoacoustic imaging) and the availability of several established protocols for surface functionalisation. In this work, polymer-coated gold nanorods were conjugated with anti-Aβ antibodies and attached to pre-formed Aβ seeds. The resulting complexes were characterised for their optical properties by UV/Vis spectroscopy and multispectral optoacoustic tomography. The complexes retained their biophysical properties, i.e. their ability to seed Aβ fibril formation. They remained stable in biological media for at least 2 days and showed no toxicity to SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells up to 1.5 nM and 6 μM of gold nanorods and Aβ seeds, respectively. Taken together, this study describes the first steps in the development of probes for monitoring the spread of Aβ seeds in animal models.

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