Tat peptide-derivatized magnetic nanoparticles allow in vivo tracking and recovery of progenitor cells

Maïté Lewin, Nadia Carlesso, Ching Hsuan Tung, Xiao Wu Tang, David Cory, David T. Scadden, Ralph Weissleder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1560 Scopus citations


The ability to track the distribution and differentiation of progenitor and stem cells by high-resolution in vivo imaging techniques would have significant clinical and research implications. We have developed a cell labeling approach using short HIV-Tat peptides to derivatize superparamagnetic nanoparticles. The particles are efficiently internalized into hematopoietic and neural progenitor cells in quantities up to 10-30 pg of superparamagnetic iron per cell. Iron incorporation did not affect cell viability, differentiation, or proliferation of CD34+ cells. Following intravenous injection into immunodeficient mice, 4% of magnetically CD34+ cells horned to bone marrow per gram of tissue, and single cells could be detected by magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in tissue samples. In addition, magnetically labeled cells that had homed to bone marrow could be recovered by magnetic separation columns. Localization and retrieval of cell populations in vivo enable detailed analysis of specific stem cell and organ interactions critical for advancing the therapeutic use of stem cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-414
Number of pages5
JournalNature Biotechnology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 3 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • CD34
  • Homing
  • Iron oxide
  • Magnetic resonance
  • Neural progenitor cells
  • Stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering

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