Cellular MR imaging

Michel Modo, Mathias Hoehn, Jeff W.M. Bulte

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

275 Scopus citations


Cellular MR imaging is a young field that aims to visualize targeted cells in living organisms. In order to provide a different signal intensity of the targeted cell, they are either labeled with MR contrast agents in vivo or prelabeled in vitro. Either (ultrasmall) superparamagnetic iron oxide [(U)SPIO] particles or (polymeric) paramagnetic chelates can be used for this purpose. For in vivo cellular labeling, Gd3+- and Mn2+- chelates have mainly been used for targeted hepatobiliary imaging, and (U)SPIO-based cellular imaging has been focused on imaging of macrophage activity. Several of these magneto-pharmaceuticals have been PDA-approved or are in late-phase clinical trials. As for prelabeling of cells in vitro, a challenge has been to induce a sufficient uptake of contrast agents into nonphagocytic cells, without affecting normal cellular function. It appears that this issue has now largely been resolved, leading to an active research on monitoring the cellular biodistribution in vivo following transplantation or transfusion of these cells, including cell migration and trafficking. New applications of cellular MR imaging will be directed, for instance, towards our understanding of hematopoietic (immune) cell trafficking and of novel guided (stem) cell-based therapies aimed to be translated to the clinic in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-164
Number of pages22
JournalMolecular imaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2005


  • Cell labeling
  • Gadolinium
  • MR contrast agent
  • Macrophage
  • Stem cells
  • Superparamagnetic iron oxide
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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