, Volume 14, Issue 10, pp 1851-1858
Date: 13 Jul 2004

Capacity of human monocytes to phagocytose approved iron oxide MR contrast agents in vitro

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To evaluate the capacity of human monocytes to phagocytose various approved iron oxide based magnetic resonance (MR) contrast agents and to optimize in vitro labeling of these cells. Human monocytes were incubated with two superparamagnetic iron oxide particles (SPIO) as well as two ultrasmall SPIO (USPIO) at varying iron oxide concentrations and incubation times. Iron uptake in monocytes was proven by histology, quantified by atomic emission absorption spectrometry and depicted with T2* weighted fast field echo (FFE) MR images at 1.5 T. Additionally, induction of apoptosis in iron oxide labeled monocytes was determined by YO-PRO-1 staining. Cellular iron uptake was significantly (P<0.01) higher after incubation with SPIO compared with USPIO. For SPIO, the iron oxide uptake was significantly (P<0.01) higher after incubation with the ionic Ferucarbotran as compared with the non-ionic Ferumoxides. Efficient cell labeling was achieved after incubation with Ferucarbotran at concentrations ≧500 μg Fe/ml and incubation times ≧1 h, resulting in a maximal iron oxide uptake of up to 50 pg Fe/cell without impairment of cell viability. In vitro labeling of human monocytes for MR imaging is most effectively obtained with the approved SPIO Ferucarbotran. Potential subsequent in vivo cell tracking applications comprise, e.g. specific targeting of inflammatory processes.