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Proc SPIE Int Soc Opt Eng. 2011;7965:79650z.

MPI Cell Tracking: What Can We Learn from MRI?

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Russell H. Morgan Dept. of Radiology and Radiological Science, Division of MR Research, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) cell tracking has become an important non-invasive technique to interrogate the fate of cells upon transplantation. At least 6 clinical trials have been published at the end of 2010, all of which have shown that real-time monitoring of the injection procedure, initial engraftment, and short-term biodistribution of cells is critical to further advance the field of cellular therapeutics. In MRI cell tracking, cells are loaded with superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) particles that provide an MRI contrast effect through microscopic magnetic field disturbances and dephasing of protons. Magnetic particle imaging (MPI) has recently emerged as a potential cellular imaging technique that promises to have several advantages over MRI, primarily linear quantification of cells, a higher sensitivity, and "hot spot" tracer identification without confounding background signal. Although probably not fully optimized, SPIO particles that are currently used as MRI contrast agent can be employed as MPI tracer. Initial studies have shown that cells loaded with SPIO particles can give a detectable MPI signal, encouraging further development of MPI cell tracking.

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