A novel approach to label bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells with mixed-surface PAMAM dendrimers

Nikolas Munro, Bhairavi Srinageshwar, Firas Shalabi, Maria Florendo, Paulina Otero, Cassandra Thompson, Jordyn Kippe, Clayton Malkowski, Sydney Climie, Andrew N. Stewart, Rachel Kim, Joseph Zhou, Douglas Swanson, Gary L. Dunbar, Ajit Sharma, Julien Rossignol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells has created enormous opportunities as a potential treatment for various diseases including neurodegenerative diseases. Given current techniques, such as Hoechst labeling, have safety and leakage issues, our study focused, as a proof-of-concept, on a new dendrimer-based technique for labeling these stem cells to ensure their efficacy and safety following transplantation into the brain of a healthy mice. Methods and results: The bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) were labeled using polyaminoamine (PAMAM) dendrimers following which their stemness based on their proliferation and differentiation ability were analyzed by gold standard methods. These labeled BM-MSCs were transplanted into the striatum of C57BL/6J mice and were tracked using in vivo imaging system (IVIS) and analyzed using tissue imaging, 2 weeks after transplantation. Our results showed that the dendrimer-labeled BM-MSCs were able to successfully maintain their stemness and were tracked in vivo following transplantation. Unlike Hoechst, we did not find the dendrimers to be leaking out of the cells and were very specific to the cells that up took the dendrimers. Moreover, no adverse events were found in the transplanted animals proving that this is a safer method. Conclusions: Labeling BM-MSCs using fluorescently tagged PAMAM dendrimers can be used as a potentially safe and efficient method for labeling cells, particularly stem cells, in vitro and in vivo following transplantation in rodents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number71
JournalStem Cell Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 28 2019


  • Cell labeling technique
  • Cell transplantation
  • Hoechst
  • Imaging
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • PAMAM dendrimer nanoparticles


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