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The substantial gains promised by multi-antenna systems require accurate channel knowledge, at least at the receiver side. Furthermore, the complexity of most receivers becomes unfeasible when the number of transmit antennas gets large (known as "large-MIMO" systems). In this paper, channel estimation by means of cooperative particle swarm optimization (CPSO) and factor-graph based data detection with belief propagation is presented. The overall complexity of the receiver grows linearly with respect to the number of transmit and receive antennas. Numerical results validate the performance of the CPSO channel estimation integrated within a graph-based iterative receiver, including a 24×16 MIMO system.