Differential interaction of magnetic nanoparticles with tumor cells and peripheral blood cells

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The separation of tumor cells from healthy cells is a vital problem in oncology and hematology, especially from peripheral blood. Magnetic assisted cell sorting (MACS) is a possibility to fulfill these needs.


Tumor cell lines and leukocytes from peripheral blood were incubated with carboxymethyl dextran-coated magnetic nanoparticles under various conditions and separated by MACS.


We studied the interaction of magnetic nanoparticles devoid of antibodies with healthy and tumor cells. The magnetic nanoparticles interact with tumor cells and leukocytes and are located predominantly within the cell cytoplasm. Incubation of cell culture cells with magnetic nanoparticles led to a labeling of these cells without reduced biological properties for at least 14 days. The interaction of the magnetic nanoparticles with cells depends on several factors. The ionic strength (osmolality) of the solvent plays an important role. We could show that an increase in osmolality led to a dramatic reduction of labeled leukocytes. Tumor cells, however, are mildly affected. This could be detected not only in pure cultures of tumor cells or leukocytes but also in mixed cell populations.


This observation gives us the opportunity to selectively label and separate tumor cells but not leukocytes from the peripheral blood.

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