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Nat Biotechnol. 2005 Aug;23(8):983-7. Epub 2005 Jul 24.

In vivo imaging platform for tracking immunotherapeutic cells.

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Department of Biological Sciences and Pittsburgh NMR Center for Biomedical Research, Carnegie Mellon University, 4400 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


Cellular therapeutics show great promise for the treatment of disease, but few noninvasive techniques exist for monitoring the cells after administration. Here we present a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology that uses perfluoropolyether (PFPE) agents to track cells in vivo. Fluorine MRI selectively images only the labeled cells, and a 'conventional' (1)H image places the cells in their anatomical context. We labeled phenotypically defined dendritic cells (DCs) with PFPE ex vivo and observed efficient intracellular uptake of the PFPE with little effect on DC function. We injected labeled DCs into tissue or intravenously in mice and then tracked the cells in vivo using (19)F MRI. Although we focused on DCs, which are being developed as immunotherapeutics for cancer and autoimmune diseases, this technology should be useful for monitoring a wide range of cell types in vivo.

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