Our review entitled Long-term tracking of cells using inorganic nanoparticles as contrast agents: are we there yet? has been published online today by Chemical Society Review. Thanks to Arthur Taylor, Katie Wilson, Dave Fernig and Patricia Murray for their respective contributions.
The use of inorganic nanoparticles as probes to label and track cells in vivo is already a reality. While superparamagnetic nanoparticles have been the subject of clinical studies involving magnetic resonance imaging, quantum dots and gold nanoparticles are starting to be explored for similar goals in pre-clinical studies involving fluorescence and photoacoustic imaging. Although exciting results have been obtained from in vivo investigations, there appears to be a general lack of understanding on the effects of physicochemical properties on the labelling efficiency and toxicity of those nanoparticles, as well as on their stability in the intracellular microenvironment; essential requirements for using them as probes for cellular tracking. In this tutorial review, we look at what the current literature can teach us in respect to cell interactions with these nanoparticles, with the perspective of using them as probes for cell labelling. We also examine the findings obtained in pre-clinical studies that expose potential misinterpretation that can occur when using inorganic nanoparticles for in vivo imaging.