Persistence of fluorescent nanoparticle‐labelled bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells in vitro and after intra‐articular injection Academic Article uri icon


  • Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) improve the osteoarthritis condition, but the fate of MSCs after intra-articular injection is unclear. We used fluorescent nanoparticles (quantum dots [QDs]) to track equine MSCs (QD-labelled MSCs [QD-MSCs]) in vivo after intra-articular injection into normal and osteoarthritic joints. One week after injection of QD-MSCs, unlabelled MSCs, or vehicle, we determined the presence of QD-MSCs in synovium and articular cartilage histologically. In vitro, we evaluated the persistence of QDs in MSCs and whether QDs affected proliferation, immunophenotype, or differentiation. In joints injected with QD-MSCs, labelled cells were identified on the synovial membrane and significantly less often on articular cartilage, without differences between normal and osteoarthritic joints. Joints injected with QD-MSCs and MSCs had increased synovial total nucleated cell count and protein compared with vehicle-injected joints. In vitro, QDs persisted in nonproliferating cells for up to 8 weeks (length of the study), but QD fluorescence was essentially absent from proliferating cells within two passages (approximately 3 to 5 days). QD labelling did not affect MSC differentiation into chondrocytes, adipocytes, and osteocytes. QD-MSCs had slightly different immunophenotype from control cells, but whether this was due to an effect of the QDs or to drift during culture is unknown. QD-MSCs can be visualized in histological sections 1 week after intra-articular injection and are more frequently found in the synovial membrane versus cartilage in both normal and osteoarthritic joints. QDs do not alter MSC viability and differentiation potential in vitro. However, QDs are not optimal markers for long-term tracking of MSCs, especially under proliferative conditions.

author list (cited authors)

  • Grady, S. T., Britton, L., Hinrichs, K., Nixon, A. J., & Watts, A. E.

citation count

  • 3

publication date

  • December 2018