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Eur J Radiol. 2008 Dec;68(3 Suppl):S156-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2008.04.058. Epub 2008 Jul 7.

Synchrotron-based in vivo tracking of implanted mammalian cells.

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  • 1Monash University, School of Physics, Melbourne, Victoria 3800, Australia. chris.hall@sync.monash.edu.au


We have developed an X-ray imaging protocol that permits 3D visualisation of a small number of implanted cells within bulk tissue. The cells are marked using natural endocytosis of inert gold nano-particles. The resulting local increase in electron density allows high imaging contrast to be obtained from small clusters of these marked cells. Using this technique we have imaged C6 glioma cells within the brain of a model animal. The cells were marked by exposing them to colloidal gold incorporated in the growth media. Gold-loaded glioma cells were implanted into the brains of adult male Wistar rats. After tumours had been allowed to develop for up to 2 weeks, the animals were sacrificed and images of the intact cranium were acquired at the SYRMEP imaging station on the Elettra synchrotron in Italy. Computed tomography was performed using mixed absorption and phase contrast techniques at an X-ray energy of 24 keV. In the resulting volume datasets the tumour bulk is clearly visible and the infiltrating nature of the malignant growth is well demonstrated. Although the protocol was developed using this particular model of malignant brain tumour, it is believed that it will be possible to use it with other cell lines.

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