Quantification and tracking of genetically engineered dendritic cells for studying immunotherapy

Amnon Bar-Shir, Lina Alon, Michael J. Korrer, Hong Seo Lim, Nirbhay N. Yadav, Yoshinori Kato, Arvind P. Pathak, Jeff W.M. Bulte, Assaf A. Gilad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Genetically encoded reporters can assist in visualizing biological processes in live organisms and have been proposed for longitudinal and noninvasive tracking of therapeutic cells in deep tissue. Cells can be labeled in situ or ex vivo and followed in live subjects over time. Nevertheless, a major challenge for reporter systems is to identify the cell population that actually expresses an active reporter. Methods: We have used a nucleoside analog, pyrrolo-2′-deoxycytidine, as an imaging probe for the putative reporter gene, Drosophila melanogaster 2′-deoxynucleoside kinase. Bioengineered cells were imaged in vivo in animal models of brain tumor and immunotherapy using chemical exchange saturation transfer MRI. The number of transduced cells was quantified by flow cytometry based on the optical properties of the probe. Results: We performed a comparative analysis of six different cell lines and demonstrate utility in a mouse model of immunotherapy. The proposed technology can be used to quantify the number of labeled cells in a given region, and moreover is sensitive enough to detect less than 10,000 cells. Conclusion: This unique technology that enables efficient selection of labeled cells followed by in vivo monitoring with both optical and MRI. Magn Reson Med 79:1010–1019, 2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1010-1019
Number of pages10
JournalMagnetic resonance in medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • MRI
  • Reporter gene
  • dendritic cells (DCs)
  • drosophila melanogaster 2′-deoxynucleoside kinase (Dm-dNK)
  • fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS)
  • pyrrolo-2′-deoxycytidine (pyrrolo-dC)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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