Intracellular labeling of mouse embryonic stem cell-derived neural progenitor aggregates with micron-sized particles of iron oxide.

PMID 25527864


Pluripotent stem cell (PSC)-derived neural progenitor cells (NPCs) represent an unlimited source for the treatment of various neurological disorders. NPCs are usually derived from PSCs through the formation of embryoid body (EB), an aggregate structure mimicking embryonic development. This study investigated the effect of labeling multicellular EB-NPC aggregates with micron-sized particles of iron oxide (MPIO) for cell tracking using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Intact and dissociated EB-NPC aggregates were labeled with various concentrations of MPIOs (0, 2.5, 5 and 10 μg Fe/mL). The labeled cells were analyzed by fluorescent imaging, flow cytometry and in vitro MRI for labeling efficiency and detectability. Moreover, the biological effects of intracellular MPIO on cell viability, cytotoxicity, proliferation and neural differentiation were evaluated. Intact EB-NPC aggregates showed higher cell proliferation and viability compared with the dissociated cells. Despite diffusion limitation at low MPIO concentration, higher concentration of MPIO (i.e., 10 μg Fe/mL) was able to label EB-NPC aggregates at similar efficiency to the single cells. In vitro MRI showed concentration-dependent MPIO detection in EB-NPCs over 2.0-2.6 population doublings. More important, MPIO incorporation did not affect the proliferation and neural differentiation of EB-NPCs. Multicellular EB-NPC aggregates can be efficiently labeled and tracked with MPIO while maintaining cell proliferation, phenotype and neural differentiation potential. This study demonstrated the feasibility of labeling EB-NPC aggregates with MPIO for cellular monitoring of in vitro cultures and in vivo transplantation.