Stem cell-based therapies for brain injuries, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), are a promising approach for clinical trials. However, technical hurdles such as invasive cell delivery and tracking with low transplantation efficiency remain challenges in translational stem-based therapy. This article describes an emerging technique for stem cell labeling and tracking based on the labeling of the mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) with superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) nanoparticles, as well as intranasal delivery of the labeled MSCs. These nanoparticles are fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-embedded and safe to label the MSCs, which are subsequently delivered to the brains of TBI-induced mice by the intranasal route. They are then tracked non-invasively in vivo by real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Important advantages of this technique that combines SPIO for cell labeling and intranasal delivery include (1) non-invasive, in vivo MSC tracking after delivery for long tracking periods, (2) the possibility of multiple dosing regimens due to the non-invasive route of MSC delivery, and (3) possible applications to humans, owing to the safety of SPIO, non-invasive nature of the cell-tracking method by MRI, and route of administration.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of visualized experiments : JoVE
Issue number153
Publication statusPublished - Nov 21 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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