Radiolabeling of Extracellular Vesicles with (99m)Tc for Quantitative In Vivo Imaging Studies

Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 2016 Jun;31(5):168-73. doi: 10.1089/cbr.2016.2009.


The biodistribution of extracellular vesicles (EVs) is a fundamental question in the field of circulating biomarkers, which has recently gained attention. Despite the capabilities of nuclear imaging methods, such as single-photon emission computed tomography, radioisotope labeling of EVs and the use of the aforementioned methods for in vivo studies hardly can be found in the literature. In this article, the authors describe a novel method for the radioisotope labeling of erythrocyte-derived EVs using the (99m)Tc-tricarbonyl complex. Moreover, the capability of the developed labeling method for in vivo biodistribution studies is demonstrated in a mouse model. The authors found that the intravenously administered (99m)Tc-labeled EVs mostly accumulated in the liver and spleen. The in vivo stability of the labeled EVs was assessed by the comparison of the obtained biodistribution of EVs with that of the free (99m)Tc-tricarbonyl. According to the authors' data, only a minor fraction of the radioactive label became detached from the EVs.

Keywords: SPECT; biodistribution; exosome; microvesicle.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Erythrocytes / chemistry
  • Erythrocytes / ultrastructure
  • Exosomes / metabolism
  • Extracellular Vesicles / chemistry
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Isotope Labeling / methods*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Organotechnetium Compounds / chemistry*
  • Organotechnetium Compounds / pharmacokinetics
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / chemistry
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / pharmacokinetics*
  • Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography Computed Tomography / methods
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Organotechnetium Compounds
  • Radiopharmaceuticals