Biotechnology Letters

, Volume 40, Issue 8, pp 1189–1200 | Cite as

Labeling of endothelial cells with magnetic microbeads by angiophagy

  • Jessica Thomas
  • Desiree Jones
  • Leni Moldovan
  • Mirela Anghelina
  • Keith J. Gooch
  • Nicanor I. MoldovanEmail author
Original Research Paper



Attachment of magnetic particles to cells is needed for a variety of applications but is not always possible or efficient. Simpler and more convenient methods are thus desirable. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that endothelial cells (EC) can be loaded with micron-size magnetic beads by the phagocytosis-like mechanism ‘angiophagy’. To this end, human umbilical vein EC (HUVEC) were incubated with magnetic beads conjugated or not (control) with an anti-VEGF receptor 2 antibody, either in suspension, or in culture followed by re-suspension using trypsinization.


In all conditions tested, HUVEC incubation with beads induced their uptake by angiophagy, which was confirmed by (i) increased cell granularity assessed by flow cytometry, and (ii) the presence of an F-actin rich layer around many of the intracellular beads, visualized by confocal microscopy. For confluent cultures, the average number of beads per cell was 4.4 and 4.2, with and without the presence of the anti-VEGFR2 antibody, respectively. However, while the actively dividing cells took up 2.9 unconjugated beads on average, this number increased to 5.2 if binding was mediated by the antibody. Magnetic pulldown increased the cell density of beads-loaded cells in porous electrospun poly-capro-lactone scaffolds by a factor of 4.5 after 5 min, as compared to gravitational settling (p < 0.0001).


We demonstrated that EC can be readily loaded by angiophagy with micron-sized beads while attached in monolayer culture, then dispersed in single-cell suspensions for pulldown in porous scaffolds and for other applications.


Angiophagy Electrospun scaffold Endothelial cells Magnetic microbeads Phagocytosis Poly-capro-lactone 



The authors are grateful to Ray Xu and John Lannutti from the Department of Materials Sciences and Engineering at OSU for scaffold preparation, and to Thierry Pecot for help with the software for nuclei analysis. Microscopy was performed in the Campus Microscopy and Imaging Facility of the Ohio State University. This work was supported by NIH Grant RC2 AG-036559, and by a research seed grant from OSU Center for Emergent Materials.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical EngineeringThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Department of Internal MedicineThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Department of SurgeryIndiana University-Purdue University at IndianapolisIndianapolisUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biomedical EngineeringIndiana University-Purdue University at IndianapolisIndianapolisUSA

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