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Open Access Cationic Gd-DTPA Liposomes for Highly Efficient Labeling of Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Cell Tracking With MRI

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In the current study cell labeling was performed with water-soluble gadolinium (Gd)-DTPA containing liposomes, to allow for cell tracking by MRI. Liposomes were used to assure a highly concentrated intracellular build up of Gd, aiming to overcome the relatively low MRI sensitivity of Gd (compared to T2 contrast agents). Liposomes were positively charged (cationic) to facilitate uptake by binding to anionic charges in the cell membrane of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). We determined the cellular Gd load by variations in labeling time (1, 4, and 24 h) and liposome concentration (125, 250, 500, 1000 μM lipid), closely monitoring effects on cell viability, proliferation rate, and differentiation ability. Labeling was both time and dose dependent. Labeling for 4 h was most efficient regarding the combination of processing time and final cellular Gd uptake. Labeling for 4 h with low-dose concentration (125 μM lipid, corresponding to 52 ± 3 μM Gd) yielded an intracellular load of 30 ± 2.5 pg Gd cell−1, without any effects on cell viability, proliferation, and cell differentiation. Gd liposomes, colabeled with fluorescent dyes, exhibited a prolonged cellular retention, with an endosomal distribution pattern. In vitro assay over 20 days demonstrated a drop in the average Gd load per cell, as a result of mitosis. However, there was no significant change in the sum of the Gd load in all daughter cells at endpoint (20 days), indicating an excellent cellular retention of Gd. MSCs labeled with Gd liposomes were imaged with MRI at both 1.5T and 3.0T, resulting in excellent visualization both in vitro and in vivo. Prolonged in vivo imaging of 500,000 Gd-labeled cells was possible for at least 2 weeks (3.0T). In conclusion, Gd-loaded cationic liposomes (125 μM lipid) are an excellent candidate to label cells, without detrimental effects on cell viability, proliferation, and differentiation, and can be visualized by MRI.

Keywords: Cell labeling; Cell tracking; Cell transplantation; Gadolinium; Liposomes; Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Radiology, Erasmus MC-University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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