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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Canine mesenchymal stem cells are effectively labeled with silica nanoparticles and unambiguously visualized in highly autofluorescent tissues

Sei-Myoung Han1, Hee-Woo Lee1, Dong-Ha Bhang1, Kyoung-Won Seo2 and Hwa-Young Youn1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Veterinary Internal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul, 151-742, Korea

2 Department of Veterinary Internal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Chungnam National University, Daejeon, 305-764, Korea

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BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:145  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-145

Published: 27 August 2012



Development of a method for long-term labeling of cells is critical to elucidate transplanted cell fate and migration as well as the contribution to tissue regeneration. Silica nanoparticles have been recently developed and demonstrated to be biocompatible with a high labeling capacity. Thus, our study was designed to assess the suitability of silica nanoparticles for labeling canine mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and the fluorescence afficiency in highly autofluorescent tissue.


We examined the effect of silica nanoparticle labeling on stem cell morphology, viability and differentiation as compared with those of unlabeled control cells. After 4 h of incubation with silica nanoparticles, they were internalized by canine MSCs without a change in the morphology of cells compared with that of control cells. The viability and proliferation of MSCs labeled with silica nanoparticles were evaluated by a WST-1 assay and trypan blue exclusion. No effects on cell viability were observed, and the proliferation of canine MSCs was not inhibited during culture with silica nanoparticles. Furthermore, adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation of silica nanoparticle-labeled canine MSCs was at a similar level compared with that of unlabeled cells, indicating that silica nanoparticle labeling did not alter the differentiation capacity of canine MSCs. Silica nanoparticle-labeled canine MSCs were injected into the kidneys of BALB/c mice after celiotomy, and then the mice were sacrificed after 2 or 3 weeks. The localization of injected MSCs was closely examined in highly autofluorescent renal tissues. Histologically, canine MSCs were uniformly and completely labeled with silica nanoparticles, and were unambiguously imaged in histological sections.


The results of the current study showed that silica nanoparticles are useful as an effective labeling marker for MSCs, which can elucidate the distribution and fate of transplanted MSCs.