A method for the efficient iron-labeling of patient-derived xenograft cells and cellular imaging validation


  • Natasha N. Knier Western University
  • Veronica P. Dubois Western University
  • Yuanxin Chen
  • John A. Ronald Western University
  • Paula J. Foster Western University


bioluminescence imaging, breast cancer, cellular imaging, magnetic particle imaging patient-derived xenografts ?


There is momentum towards implementing patient-derived xenograft models (PDX) in cancer research to reflect the histopathology, tumor behavior, and metastatic properties observed in the original tumor. These models are more predictive of clinical outcomes and are superior to cell lines for preclinical drug evaluation and therapeutic strategies. To study PDX cells preclinically, we used both bioluminescence imaging (BLI) to evaluate cell viability and magnetic particle imaging (MPI), an emerging imaging technology to allow for detection and quantification of iron nanoparticles. The goal of this study was to develop the first successful iron labeling method of breast cancer cells derived from patient brain metastases and validate this method with imaging during tumor development. Luciferase expressing human breast cancer PDX cells (F2-7) were successfully labeled after incubation with micron-sized iron oxide particles (MPIO; 25 μg Fe/ml). NOD/SCID/ILIIrg−/− (n = 5) mice received injections of 1x106 iron-labeled F2-7 cells into the fourth mammary fat pad (MFP). BLI was performed longitudinally to day 49 and MPI was performed up to day 28. In vivo BLI revealed that signal increased over time with tumor development. MPI revealed decreasing signal in the tumor over time. Here, we demonstrate the first application of MPI to monitor the growth of a PDX MFP tumor. To accomplish this, we also demonstrate the first successful labeling of PDX cells with iron oxide particles. Imaging of PDX cells provides a powerful system to better develop personalized therapies targeting breast cancer brain metastasis.


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How to Cite

Knier NN, Dubois VP, Chen Y, Ronald JA, Foster PJ. A method for the efficient iron-labeling of patient-derived xenograft cells and cellular imaging validation. J Biol Methods [Internet]. 2021Sep.2 [cited 2021Sep.20];8(3):e154. Available from: https://jbmethods.org/jbm/article/view/356