A New Method for Preparing Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Labeling with Ferumoxytol for Cell Tracking by MRI

Sci Rep. 2016 May 18;6:26271. doi: 10.1038/srep26271.


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are among the major stem cells used for cell therapy and regenerative medicine. In-vivo cell-tracking by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is crucial for regenerative medicine, allowing verification that the transplanted cells reach the targeted sites. Cellular MRI combined with superparamagnetic iron-oxide (SPIO) contrast agents is an effective cell-tracking method. Here, we are reporting a new "bio-mimicry" method by making use of the "in-vivo environment" of MSCs to prepare native MSCs, so that (i) the phagocytic activity of cultured MSCs can be recovered and expanded MSCs can be ex-vivo labeled with Ferumoxytol, which is currently the only FDA approved SPIO nanoparticles for human use. Using our new method, 7-day cultured MSCs regain the capability to take up Ferumoxytol and exhibit an intracellular iron concentration of 2.50 ± 0.50 pg/MSC, comparable to that obtained by using Ferumoxytol-heparin-protamine nanocomplex; and (ii) cells can be re-sized to more native size, reducing from 32.0 ± 7.2 μm to 19.5 ± 5.2 μm. Our method can be very useful for expanding MSCs and labeling with Ferumoxytol, without the need for transfection agents and/or electroporation, allowing cell-tracking by MRI in both pre-clinical and clinical studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Size
  • Cell Tracking / methods*
  • Ferrosoferric Oxide / chemistry*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Phagocytosis
  • Rats


  • Ferrosoferric Oxide