Tracking and protection of transplanted stem cells using a ferrocenecarboxylic acid-conjugated peptide that mimics hTERT

Biomaterials. 2018 Feb;155:80-91. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2017.11.009. Epub 2017 Nov 14.


In vivo tracking of transplanted stem cells has been a central aim of stem cell therapy. Although many tracking systems have been introduced, no method has yet been validated for clinical applications. We developed a novel sophisticated peptide (GV1001) that mimics hTERT (human telomerase reverse transcriptase) and analysed its ability to track and protect stem cells after transplantation. Ferrocenecarboxylic acid-conjugated GV1001 (Fe-GV1001) efficiently penetrated stem cells with no adverse effects. Moreover, Fe-GV1001 improved the viability, proliferation, and migration of stem cells under hypoxia. After Fe-GV1001-labelled stem cells were transplanted into the brains of rats after stroke, the labelled cells were easily tracked by MRI. Our findings indicate that Fe-GV1001 can be used for the in vivo tracking of stem cells after transplantation into the brain and can improve the efficacy of stem cell therapy by sustaining and enhancing stem cell characteristics under disease conditions.

Keywords: MRI; Mesenchymal stem cells; Neural stem cells; Peptide; Tracking; hTERT.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ferrous Compounds / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Metallocenes
  • Neural Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry*
  • Peptide Fragments / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Telomerase / chemistry*


  • Ferrous Compounds
  • Metallocenes
  • Peptide Fragments
  • ferrocenecarboxylic acid
  • TERT protein, human
  • Telomerase