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Gene Ther. 2006 Oct;13(20):1440-6. Epub 2006 Jul 20.

Magnetic resonance imaging of viral particle biodistribution in vivo.

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Department of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland.


We describe here a technique for the visualization of viral vector delivery by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in vivo. By conjugating avidin-coated baculoviral vectors (Baavi) with biotinylated ultra-small superparamagnetic iron oxide particles (USPIO), we are able to produce vector-related MRI contrast in the choroid plexus cells of rat brain in vivo over a period of 14 days. Ten microlitres of 2.5 x 10(10) PFU/ml nuclear-targeted LacZ-encoding Baavi with bUSPIO coating was injected into rat brain ventricles and visualized by MRI at 4.7 T. As baculoviruses exhibit restricted cell-type specificity in the rat brain, altered MRI contrast was detected in the choroid plexus of the injected ventricles. No specific signal loss was detected when wild-type baculoviruses or intact biotinylated USPIO particles were injected into the lateral ventricles. Cryosectioned brains were stained for nuclear-targeted beta-galactosidase gene expression, which was found to colocalize with MRI contrast. This study provides the first proof of principle for robust and non-invasive viral vector MRI by using avidin-displaying viruses in vivo. Considering the widespread use of MRI in current medical imaging, the approach is likely to provide numerous future applications in imaging of therapeutic gene transfer.

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