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Real-time high-resolution magnetic resonance tracking of macrophage subpopulations in a murine inflammation model: a pilot study with a commercially available cryogenic probe


Florence Gazeau, Université Paris Diderot, CNRS UMR7057, Laboratoire Matière et Systèmes Complexes MSC, Paris, France. E-mail:


Macrophages present different polarization states exhibiting distinct functions in response to environmental stimuli. However, the dynamic of their migration to sites of inflammation is not fully elucidated. Here we propose a real-time in vivo cell tracking approach, using high-resolution (HR)-MRI obtained with a commercially available cryogenic probe (Cryoprobe™), to monitor trafficking of differently polarized macrophages after systemic injection into mice. Murine bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells were differentiated ex vivo into nonpolarized M0, pro-inflammatory M1 and immunomodulator M2 macrophage subsets and labeled with citrate-coated anionic iron oxide nanoparticles (AMNP). These cells were subsequently intravenously injected to mice bearing calf muscle inflammation. Whole body migration dynamics of macrophage subsets was monitored by MRI at 4.7 T with a volume transmission/reception radiofrequency coil and macrophage infiltration to the inflamed paw was monitored with the cryogenic probe, allowing 3D spatial resolution of 50 µm with a scan time of only 10 min. Capture of AMNP was rapid and efficient regardless of macrophage polarization, with the highest uptake in M2 macrophages. Flow cytometry confirmed that macrophages preserved their polarization hallmarks after labeling. Migration kinetics of labeled cells differed from that of free AMNP. A preferential homing of M2-polarized macrophages to inflammation sites was observed. Our in vivo HR-MRI protocol highlights the extent of macrophage infiltration to the inflammation site. Coupled to whole body imaging, HR-MRI provides quantitative information on the time course of migration of ex vivo-polarized intravenously injected macrophages. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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