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PLoS One. 2018 Jan 11;13(1):e0190558. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0190558. eCollection 2018.

Fast, quantitative, murine cardiac 19F MRI/MRS of PFCE-labeled progenitor stem cells and macrophages at 9.4T.

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Departments of Cardiovascular Medicine, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Department of Tumor Immunology, Radboud University Medical Center, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Department of Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.



To a) achieve cardiac 19F-Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of perfluoro-crown-ether (PFCE) labeled cardiac progenitor stem cells (CPCs) and bone-derived bone marrow macrophages, b) determine label concentration and cellular load limits, and c) achieve spectroscopic and image-based quantification.


Theoretical simulations and experimental comparisons of spoiled-gradient echo (SPGR), rapid acquisition with relaxation enhancement (RARE), and steady state at free precession (SSFP) pulse sequences, and phantom validations, were conducted using 19F MRI/Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) at 9.4 T. Successful cell labeling was confirmed using flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. For CPC and macrophage concentration quantification, in vitro and post-mortem cardiac validations were pursued with the use of the transfection agent FuGENE. Feasibility of fast imaging is demonstrated in murine cardiac acquisitions in vivo, and in post-mortem murine skeletal and cardiac applications.


SPGR/SSFP proved favorable imaging sequences yielding good signal-to-noise ratio values. Confocal microscopy confirmed heterogeneity of cellular label uptake in CPCs. 19F MRI indicated lack of additional benefits upon label concentrations above 7.5-10 mg/ml/million cells. The minimum detectable CPC load was ~500k (~10k/voxel) in two-dimensional (2D) acquisitions (3-5 min) using the butterfly coil. Additionally, absolute 19F based concentration and intensity estimates (trifluoroacetic-acid solutions, macrophages, and labeled CPCs in vitro and post-CPC injections in the post-mortem state) scaled linearly with fluorine concentrations. Fast, quantitative cardiac 19F-MRI was demonstrated with SPGR/SSFP and MRS acquisitions spanning 3-5 min, using a butterfly coil.


The developed methodologies achieved in vivo cardiac 19F of exogenously injected labeled CPCs for the first time, accelerating imaging to a total acquisition of a few minutes, providing evidence for their potential for possible translational work.

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