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A superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticle, coated with polyvinyl alcohol, (PVA-SPION) and its fluorescently functionalized analogue (amino-PVA-Cy3.5-SPION) were compared in vivo as proof of principle for future use in magnetic drug targeting in inflammatory joint diseases. They were injected either intraarticularly or periarticularly and their uptake by cells of the synovial membrane was evaluated. Uptake was completed in 48 h and was enforced by an extracorporally applied magnet.