Self-Assembling Nanocomplexes by combining Ferumoxytol, Heparin And Protamine For Cell Tracking by MRI
We report on a new straightforward magnetic cell-labeling approach that combines three US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs--ferumoxytol, heparin and protamine--in serum-free medium to form self-assembling nanocomplexes that effectively label cells for in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We observed that the ferumoxytol-heparin-protamine (HPF) nanocomplexes were stable in serum-free cell culture medium. HPF nanocomplexes show a threefold increase in T2 relaxivity compared to ferumoxytol. Electron microscopy showed internalized HPF in endosomes, which we confirmed by Prussian blue staining of labeled cells. There was no long-term effect or toxicity on cellular physiology or function of HPF-labeled hematopoietic stem cells, bone marrow stromal cells, neural stem cells or T cells when compared to controls. In vivo MRI detected 1,000 HPF-labeled cells implanted in rat brains. This HPF labeling method should facilitate the monitoring by MRI of infused or implanted cells in clinical trials.