INTRODUCTION: To evaluate survival and engraftment of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) in vivo, it is necessary to track implanted cells non-invasively with a method, which does not influence cellular ultrastructure and functional characteristics. Iron-oxide particles have been applied for cell tracking for years, but knowledge regarding possible cytotoxic ultrastructural changes subsequent to iron-oxide particle labeling is limited. Hence, the purpose of this study was to label MSCs with dextran-coated ultrasmall super-paramagnetic iron-oxide (USPIO) particles conjugated with the transduction sequence of trans-activator of transcription (TAT) (IODEX-TAT) and evaluate the effect of labeling on ultrastructure, viability, phenotype and proliferative capacity of the cells. MATERIALS AND METHODS: MSCs were labeled with 5 and 10 μg IODEX-TAT/10(5) cells for 2, 6 and 21 hours. IODEX-TAT uptake and cellular ultrastructure were determined by electron microscopy. Cell viability was determined by propidium iodide staining and cell proliferation capacity by 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation. Maintenance of stem cell surface markers was determined by flow cytometry. Results. IODEX-TAT labeling for 2, 6 and 21 h did not influence cellular ultrastructure or viability. Moreover, neither stem cell surface markers nor cell proliferation capacity was affected by labeling with IODEX-TAT. CONCLUSION: Our results demonstrate that labeling of MSCs for 21 h with a clinically relevant dose of 10 μg IODEX-TAT/10(5) cells is feasible and does not affect MSC ultrastructure, viability, phenotype or proliferation capacity.
Scandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation, 2014, Vol 74, Issue 5, p. 437-446