Neural stem cells (NSCs) demonstrate encouraging results in cell replacement therapy for neurodegenerative disorders and traumatic injury in the central nervous system. Monitor the survival and migration of transplanted cells would provide us important information concerning the performance and integration of the graft during the therapy time course. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allow us to monitor the transplanted cells in a non-invasive way. The only requirement is to use an appropriate contrast agent to label the transplanted cells. Superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) nanoparticles are one of the most commonly used contrast agent for MRI detection of transplanted cells. SPIO nanoparticles demonstrated to be suitable for labeling several types of cells including NSCs. However, the current methods for SPIO labeling are non-specific, depending mostly on electrostatic interactions, demanding relatively high SPIO concentration, and long incubation time, which can affect the viability of cells. In this study, we propose a specific and relatively fast method to label NSCs with SPIO nanoparticles via DNA hybridization. Two short single stranded DNAs (ssDNAs), oligo[dT]20 and oligo[dA]20 were conjugated with a lipid molecule and SPIO nanoparticle respectively. The labeling process comprises two simple steps; first the cells are modified to present oligo[dT]20 ssDNA on the cell surface, then the oligo[dA]20 ssDNA conjugated with SPIO nanoparticles are presented to the modified cells to allow the oligo[dT]20-oligo[dA]20 hybridization. The method showed to be non-toxic at concentrations up to 50 μg/mL oligo[dA]20-SPIO nanoparticles. Presence of SPIO nanoparticles at cell surface and cell cytoplasm was verified by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). SPIO labeling via DNA hybridization demonstrated to not interfere on NSCs proliferation, aggregates formation, and differentiation. NSCs labeled with SPIO nanoparticles via DNA hybridization system were successfully detected by MRI in vitro as well in vivo. Cells transplanted into the rat brain striatum could be detected by MRI scanning up to 1 month post-transplantation.
Keywords: In vitro test; MRI (magnetic resonance imaging); Nanoparticle; Neural cell; Stem cell; Transplantation.
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