Nanomedicine for Cancer Immunotherapy: Tracking Cancer-Specific T-Cells in Vivo with Gold Nanoparticles and CT Imaging

Rinat Meir, Katerina Shamalov, Oshra Betzer, Menachem Motiei, Miryam Horovitz-Fried, Ronen Yehuda, Aron Popovtzer, Rachela Popovtzer, Cyrille J. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations


Application of immune cell-based therapy in routine clinical practice is challenging due to the poorly understood mechanisms underlying success or failure of treatment. Development of accurate and quantitative imaging techniques for noninvasive cell tracking can provide essential knowledge for elucidating these mechanisms. We designed a novel method for longitudinal and quantitative in vivo cell tracking, based on the superior visualization abilities of classical X-ray computed tomography (CT), combined with state-of-the-art nanotechnology. Herein, T-cells were transduced to express a melanoma-specific T-cell receptor and then labeled with gold nanoparticles (GNPs) as a CT contrast agent. The GNP-labeled T-cells were injected intravenously to mice bearing human melanoma xenografts, and whole-body CT imaging allowed examination of the distribution, migration, and kinetics of T-cells. Using CT, we found that transduced T-cells accumulated at the tumor site, as opposed to nontransduced cells. Labeling with gold nanoparticles did not affect T-cell function, as demonstrated both in vitro, by cytokine release and proliferation assays, and in vivo, as tumor regression was observed. Moreover, to validate the accuracy and reliability of the proposed cell tracking technique, T-cells were labeled both with green fluorescent protein for fluorescence imaging, and with GNPs for CT imaging. A remarkable correlation in signal intensity at the tumor site was observed between the two imaging modalities, at all time points examined, providing evidence for the accuracy of our CT cell tracking abilities. This new method for cell tracking with CT offers a valuable tool for research, and more importantly for clinical applications, to study the fate of immune cells in cancer immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6363-6372
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number6
StatePublished - 23 Jun 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Chemical Society.


  • T cells
  • cancer
  • cell therapy
  • cell tracking
  • computed tomography
  • imaging
  • immunotherapy


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