Natural killer (NK)-cell-based immunotherapy is emerging as an attractive approach for cancer treatment. However, to facilitate and expedite clinical implementation, important questions must be answered regarding the in vivo functionality and trafficking patterns of the transferred cells. We have recently developed a noninvasive cell-tracking technique, based on gold nanoparticles (GNPs) as cell-labeling and contrast agents for whole-body computed tomography (CT) imaging. Herein, we report the implementation of this technique for longitudinal and quantitative tracking of NK cell kinetics, the migration and biodistribution in tumor-bearing mice. NK cells were successfully labeled with GNPs, without impairing their biological function, as assessed both in vitro, by cytokine release and cytotoxicity assays, and in vivo, using a xenograft model of human tumors. Using CT, we longitudinally tracked the migration of intravenously injected NK cells and observed an accumulation of effector cell clusters at the tumor site, up to 72 h. Fluorescence imaging of the cells over time correlated with ex vivo quantitative analysis of gold content in the tumor, validating the accuracy and reliability of our technique. Our cell-tracking approach thus offers a valuable tool for preclinical studies, as well as for clinical applications, to elucidate the fate of NK cells and promote the implementation of NK-cell-based immunotherapy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- !!General Chemistry
- !!General Chemical Engineering