Measuring transferrin receptor gene expression by NMR imaging

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1998 Apr 24;1402(3):239-49. doi: 10.1016/s0167-4889(98)00002-0.


The human transferrin receptor (hTfR) has been used as a model molecular target to direct therapeutic agents to tumor cells and to shuttle drugs across the blood-brain-barrier. We show in the current study that receptor expression and regulation can be visualized by NMR imaging, when the receptor is probed with a sterically protected iron containing magnetic hTfR probe. We were able to demonstrate that the novel receptor probe was an iron source that could enter the cells via the hTfR but did not play an immediate role in iron downregulation of hTfR within incubation times tested. Using genetically engineered rat 9L gliosarcoma cell lines with three different forms of the hTfR, we also demonstrated that receptor expression and regulation can be visualized by NMR imaging using the probe. This research provides proof of the principle that it is possible to image receptor gene expression and regulation and it demonstrates that it may be possible to image gene transfer in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clone Cells / metabolism
  • Ferrosoferric Oxide
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gliosarcoma
  • Intracellular Fluid / metabolism
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Molecular Probes / metabolism
  • Oxides / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Transferrin / genetics*
  • Receptors, Transferrin / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Molecular Probes
  • Oxides
  • Receptors, Transferrin
  • Iron
  • Ferrosoferric Oxide