Ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticle prelabelling of human neural precursor cells

Biomaterials. 2014 Jul;35(21):5549-64. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2014.03.061. Epub 2014 Apr 13.


Stem cells prelabelled with iron oxide nanoparticles can be visualised using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This technique allows for noninvasive long-term monitoring of migration, integration and stem cell fate following transplantation into living animals. In order to determine biocompatibility, the present study investigated the biological impact of introducing ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (USPIOs) into primary human fetal neural precursor cells (hNPCs) in vitro. USPIOs with a mean diameter of 10-15 nm maghemite iron oxide core were sterically stabilised by 95% methoxy-poly(ethylene glycol) (MPEG) and either 5% cationic (NH2) end-functionalised, or 5% Rhodamine B end-functionalised, polyacrylamide. The stabilising polymer diblocks were synthesised by reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerisation. Upon loading, cellular viability, total iron capacity, differentiation, average distance of migration and changes in intracellular calcium ion concentration were measured to determine optimal loading conditions. Taken together we demonstrate that prelabelling of hNPCs with USPIOs has no significant detrimental effect on cell biology and that USPIOs, when utilised at an optimised dosage, are an effective means of noninvasively tracking prelabelled hNPCs.

Keywords: Biocompatibility; Iron oxide nanoparticles; MRI (magnetic resonance imaging); Neural cell; Regenerative medicine; Stem cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dextrans / chemistry*
  • Dextrans / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Neural Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry
  • Polyethylene Glycols / pharmacology
  • Rhodamines / chemistry
  • Rhodamines / pharmacology


  • Dextrans
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles
  • Rhodamines
  • ferumoxtran-10
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • rhodamine B