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Flow cytometry for intracellular SPION quantification: specificity and sensitivity in comparison with spectroscopic methods

Authors Friedrich RP, Janko C, Poettler M, Tripal P, Zaloga J, Cicha I, Dürr S, Nowak J, Odenbach S, Slabu I, Liebl M, Trahms L, Stapf M, Hilger I, Lyer S, Alexiou C

Received 12 February 2015

Accepted for publication 18 March 2015

Published 26 June 2015 Volume 2015:10(1) Pages 4185—4201

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S82714

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Thomas J Webster

Ralf P Friedrich,1 Christina Janko,1 Marina Poettler,1 Philipp Tripal,1 Jan Zaloga,1 Iwona Cicha,1 Stephan Dürr,1,2 Johannes Nowak,3 Stefan Odenbach,3 Ioana Slabu,4 Maik Liebl,4 Lutz Trahms,4 Marcus Stapf,5 Ingrid Hilger,5 Stefan Lyer,1 Christoph Alexiou1

1Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Section of Experimental Oncology and Nanomedicine, University hospital Erlangen, 2Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Section of Phoniatrics and Pediatric Audiology, University hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, 3Technische Universität Dresden, Chair of Magnetofluiddynamics, Measuring and Automation Technology, Dresden, 4Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt Berlin, Berlin, 5Department of Radiology, Division of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, Experimental Radiology, University hospital Jena, Jena, Germany

Abstract: Due to their special physicochemical properties, iron nanoparticles offer new promising possibilities for biomedical applications. For bench to bedside translation of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs), safety issues have to be comprehensively clarified. To understand concentration-dependent nanoparticle-mediated toxicity, the exact quantification of intracellular SPIONs by reliable methods is of great importance. In the present study, we compared three different SPION quantification methods (ultraviolet spectrophotometry, magnetic particle spectroscopy, atomic adsorption spectroscopy) and discussed the shortcomings and advantages of each method. Moreover, we used those results to evaluate the possibility to use flow cytometric technique to determine the cellular SPION content. For this purpose, we correlated the side scatter data received from flow cytometry with the actual cellular SPION amount. We showed that flow cytometry provides a rapid and reliable method to assess the cellular SPION content. Our data also demonstrate that internalization of iron oxide nanoparticles in human umbilical vein endothelial cells is strongly dependent to the SPION type and results in a dose-dependent increase of toxicity. Thus, treatment with lauric acid-coated SPIONs (SEONLA) resulted in a significant increase in the intensity of side scatter and toxicity, whereas SEONLA with an additional protein corona formed by bovine serum albumin (SEONLA-BSA) and commercially available Rienso® particles showed only a minimal increase in both side scatter intensity and cellular toxicity. The increase in side scatter was in accordance with the measurements for SPION content by the atomic adsorption spectroscopy reference method. In summary, our data show that flow cytometry analysis can be used for estimation of uptake of SPIONs by mammalian cells and provides a fast tool for scientists to evaluate the safety of nanoparticle products.

Keywords: low cytometry, side scatter, intracellular superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles, quantification, spectroscopy

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