Cell labeling and targeting with superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles

Brandon J. Tefft, Susheil Uthamaraj, J. Jonathan Harburn, Martin Klabusay, Dan Dragomir-Daescu, Gurpreet S. Sandhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Targeted delivery of cells and therapeutic agents would benefit a wide range of biomedical applications by concentrating the therapeutic effect at the target site while minimizing deleterious effects to off-target sites. Magnetic cell targeting is an efficient, safe, and straightforward delivery technique. Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION) are biodegradable, biocompatible, and can be endocytosed into cells to render them responsive to magnetic fields. The synthesis process involves creating magnetite (Fe3O4) nanoparticles followed by high-speed emulsification to form a poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) coating. The PLGA-magnetite SPIONs are approximately 120 nm in diameter including the approximately 10 nm diameter magnetite core. When placed in culture medium, SPIONs are naturally endocytosed by cells and stored as small clusters within cytoplasmic endosomes. These particles impart sufficient magnetic mass to the cells to allow for targeting within magnetic fields. Numerous cell sorting and targeting applications are enabled by rendering various cell types responsive to magnetic fields. SPIONs have a variety of other biomedical applications as well including use as a medical imaging contrast agent, targeted drug or gene delivery, diagnostic assays, and generation of local hyperthermia for tumor therapy or tissue soldering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere53099
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number104
StatePublished - Oct 19 2015


  • Biodegradable
  • Bioengineering
  • Capture
  • Delivery
  • FeO
  • Ferrofluid
  • Issue 104
  • Magnetic
  • Magnetite
  • PLGA
  • Paramagnetic
  • Sorting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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