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Iron Oxide Nanoparticles in Mesenchymal Stem Cell Detection and Therapy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalStem Cell Reviews And Reports
Accepted/In press1 Feb 2022
Published1 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This article is made open access with the financial support of King’s College London, UK. Publisher Copyright: © 2022, The Author(s).

King's Authors


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) exhibit regenerative and reparative properties. However, most MSC-related studies remain to be translated for regular clinical usage, partly due to challenges in pre-transplantation cell labelling and post-transplantation cell tracking. Amidst this, there are growing concerns over the toxicity of commonly used gadolinium-based contrast agents that mediate in-vivo cell detection via MRI. This urges to search for equally effective but less toxic alternatives that would facilitate and enhance MSC detection post-administration and provide therapeutic benefits in-vivo. MSCs labelled with iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) have shown promising results in-vitro and in-vivo. Thus, it would be useful to revisit these studies before inventing new labelling approaches. Aiming to inform regenerative medicine and augment clinical applications of IONP-labelled MSCs, this review collates and critically evaluates the utility of IONPs in enhancing MSC detection and therapeutics. It explains the rationale, principle, and advantages of labelling MSCs with IONPs, and describes IONP-induced intracellular alterations and consequent cellular manifestations. By exemplifying clinical pathologies, it examines contextual in-vitro, animal, and clinical studies that used IONP-labelled bone marrow-, umbilical cord-, adipose tissue- and dental pulp-derived MSCs. It compiles and discusses studies involving MSC-labelling of IONPs in combinations with carbohydrates (Venofer, ferumoxytol, dextran, glucosamine), non-carbohydrate polymers [poly(L-lysine), poly(lactide-co-glycolide), poly(L-lactide), polydopamine], elements (ruthenium, selenium, gold, zinc), compounds/stains (silica, polyethylene glycol, fluorophore, rhodamine B, DAPI, Prussian blue), DNA, Fibroblast growth Factor-2 and the drug doxorubicin. Furthermore, IONP-labelling of MSC exosomes is reviewed. Also, limitations of IONP-labelling are addressed and methods of tackling those challenges are suggested. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

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