Multifunctional nanoparticles for intracellular drug delivery and photoacoustic imaging of mesenchymal stem cells Academic Article uri icon


  • Strategies that control the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and enable image-guided cell implantation and longitudinal monitoring could advance MSC-based therapies for bone defects and injuries. Here we demonstrate a multifunctional nanoparticle system that delivers resveratrol (RESV) intracellularly to improve osteogenesis and enables photoacoustic imaging of MSCs. RESV-loaded nanoparticles (RESV-NPs), formulated from poly (lactic-co-glycolic) acid and iron oxide, enhanced the stability of RESV by 18-fold and served as photoacoustic tomography (PAT) contrast for MSCs. Pre-loading MSCs with RESV-NP upregulated RUNX2 expression with a resultant increase in mineralization by 27% and 45% compared to supplementation with RESV-NP and free RESV, respectively, in 2-dimensional cultures. When grown in polyethylene glycol-based hydrogels, MSCs pre-loaded with RESV-NPs increased the overall level and homogeneity of mineralization compared to those supplemented with free RESV or RESV-NP. The PAT detected RESV-NP-loaded MSCs with a resolution of 1500 cells/μL, which ensured imaging of MSCs upon encapsulation in a PEG-based hydrogel and implantation within the rodent cranium. Significantly, RESV-NP-loaded MSCs in hydrogels did not show PAT signal dilution over time or a reduction in signal upon osteogenic differentiation. This multifunctional NP platform has the potential to advance translation of stem cell-based therapies, by improving stem cell function and consistency via intracellular drug delivery, and enabling the use of a promising emerging technology to monitor cells in a clinically relevant manner.

author list (cited authors)

  • Adjei, I. M., Yang, H., Plumton, G., Maldonado-Camargo, L., Dobson, J., Rinaldi, C., Jiang, H., & Sharma, B.

publication date

  • January 1, 2019 11:11 AM