Nanotechnology for Cellular Imaging

Miroslaw Janowski, Piotr Walczak, Jeff W Bulte

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Stem-cell therapy is attracting much attention; however, despite the promising preclinical results, clinical translation has proved difficult. The major problem involves the interpretation of the outcomes of stem-cell therapy, which is a direct result of the lack of accurate information about the fate of the cells in vivo. Nanotechnology appears well suited to address this obstacle, offering diverse choices for stem-cell imaging. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), due to its high resolution and clinical translatability, is a preferred modality. Iron oxide nanoparticles are the most frequently used MR contrast agent for stem-cell tracking because of the strong T2/T2* signal in MRI and the satisfactory safety profile. T1 contrast agents, such as gadolinium and manganese oxide nanoparticles, are desirable for their positive signal in MRI, but at the cost of lower sensitivity and potential toxicity. Fluorine nanoparticles provide a "hot spot" signal, devoid of tissue background signal, but they also require a high payload of fluorine label due to low sensitivity. The benefit of CEST and PARACEST contrast agents is that they are switchable, as the signal difference is only present when a frequency-specific saturation pulse is applied. Other imaging modalities include optical imaging, which, due to its high throughput, is being increasingly used in preclinical applications. X-ray-based cellular labels are still hampered by low sensitivity. Upconverting nanoparticles, using the anti-Stokes phenomenon, allow for background-free fluorescence imaging. Finally, there has been much recent progress in the design of hybrid nanoparticles tailored for multimodal imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationStem Cell Nanoengineering
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781118540640
ISBN (Print)9781118540619
StatePublished - Jan 2 2015


  • Fluorine nanoparticles
  • Gadolinium nanoparticles
  • Iron oxide nanoparticles
  • Manganese oxide nanoparticles
  • Multimodal nanoparticles
  • Nanotechnology
  • PARACEST nanoparticles
  • Stem-cell imaging
  • Upconverting luminescence nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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