Advances in using MRI probes and sensors for in vivo cell tracking as applied to regenerative medicine

Amit K. Srivastava, Deepak K. Kadayakkara, Amnon Bar-Shir, Assaf A. Gilad, Michael T. McMahon, Jeff W.M. Bulte

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


The field of molecular and cellular imaging allows molecules and cells to be visualized in vivo non-invasively. It has uses not only as a research tool but in clinical settings as well, for example in monitoring cell-based regenerative therapies, in which cells are transplanted to replace degenerating or damaged tissues, or to restore a physiological function. The success of such cell-based therapies depends on several critical issues, including the route and accuracy of cell transplantation, the fate of cells after transplantation, and the interaction of engrafted cells with the host microenvironment. To assess these issues, it is necessary to monitor transplanted cells non-invasively in real-time. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a tool uniquely suited to this task, given its ability to image deep inside tissue with high temporal resolution and sensitivity. Extraordinary efforts have recently been made to improve cellular MRI as applied to regenerative medicine, by developing more advanced contrast agents for use as probes and sensors. These advances enable the non-invasive monitoring of cell fate and, more recently, that of the different cellular functions of living cells, such as their enzymatic activity and gene expression, as well as their time point of cell death. We present here a review of recent advancements in the development of these probes and sensors, and of their functioning, applications and limitations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-336
Number of pages14
JournalDMM Disease Models and Mechanisms
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015



  • Biosensor
  • CEST
  • Cell labeling
  • Cellular function
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Paramagnetic contrast agents
  • Perfluorocarbon particles
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Immunology and Microbiology (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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