Neural progenitor cells labeling with microbubble contrast agent for ultrasound imaging invivo

Wenjin Cui, Sidhartha Tavri, Michael J. Benchimol, Malak Itani, Emilia S. Olson, Hong Zhang, Marika Decyk, Rosemarie G. Ramirez, Christopher V. Barback, Yuko Kono, Robert F. Mattrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Tracking neuroprogenitor cells (NPCs) that are used to target tumors, infarction or inflammation, is paramount for cell-based therapy. We employed ultrasound imaging that can detect a single microbubble because it can distinguish its unique signal from those of surrounding tissues. NPCs efficiently internalized positively charged microbubbles allowing a clinical ultrasound system to detect a single cell at 7MHz. When injected intravenously, labeled NPCs traversed the lungs to be imaged in the left ventricle and the liver where they accumulated. Internalized microbubbles were not only less sensitive to destruction by ultrasound, but remained visible invivo for days as compared to minutes when given free. The extended longevity provides ample time to allow cells to reach their intended target. We were also able to transfect NPCs invitro when microbubbles were preloaded with GFP plasmid only when cells were insonated. Transfection efficiency and cell viability were both greater than 90%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4926-4935
Number of pages10
Issue number21
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Gene delivery
  • Microbubble
  • Neural progenitor cell
  • Stem cell tracking
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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