Radiolabeling small RNA with technetium-99m for visualizing cellular delivery and mouse biodistribution

Nucl Med Biol. 2007 May;34(4):399-404. doi: 10.1016/j.nucmedbio.2007.02.006.


To develop a noninvasive direct method for the in vivo tracking of small interfering RNA (siRNA) used in RNA interference, two 18-nucleotide oligoribonucleotides were radiolabeled with technetium-99m ((99m)Tc-RNA). The ability of (99m)Tc-RNA to track delivery was tested in cultured cells and living mice. The cellular delivery of (99m)Tc-RNAs could be quantified by gamma counting and could be visualized by microautoradiography. Radiolabeled RNAs can be efficiently delivered into cells by reaching up to 3x10(5) molecules of small RNAs per cell. Moreover, RNAs were internalized with homogeneous distribution throughout the cytoplasm and nucleus. In tumor-bearing mice, whole-body images and biodistribution studies showed that (99m)Tc-RNAs were delivered to almost all tissues after intravenous injection. The imaging of living animals allowed noninvasive and longitudinal monitoring of the in vivo delivery of these small RNAs. In conclusion, using (99m)Tc radiolabeling, the delivery of small RNAs could be measured quantitatively in cultured cells and could be noninvasively visualized in living animals using a gamma camera. The results of this study could open up a new approach for measuring the in vivo delivery of small RNAs that might further facilitate the development of siRNAs as targeted therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cells / metabolism
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Humans
  • Isotope Labeling
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Oligoribonucleotides / chemical synthesis
  • Oligoribonucleotides / pharmacokinetics
  • Oligoribonucleotides, Antisense / chemical synthesis
  • Oligoribonucleotides, Antisense / pharmacokinetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / administration & dosage
  • RNA, Small Interfering / chemistry*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacokinetics*
  • Scintillation Counting
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism
  • Technetium / chemistry*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Transplantation, Heterologous


  • Oligoribonucleotides
  • Oligoribonucleotides, Antisense
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Technetium