• MRI cell tracking;
  • superparamagnetic iron-oxide particles;
  • calcium ionophore;
  • T-cells


Dynamic MRI tracking of rat T-cells in vivo is performed in rat testicles after labeling isolated rat T-cells in vitro with superparamagnetic dextran-coated iron-oxide particles, BMS180549. Tissue inflammation induced by the local injection of the calcium ionophore, A23187, is used to attract labeled T-cells. Gradient-echo MR images of rat testicles show a statistically significant decrease (4%) of the signal intensity in areas of injection of A23187 as early as 30 min after intravenous infusion of 2 x 108 labeled T-cells. The signal change reaches its maximum (6–7% decrease) at about 60–120 min after cell infusion. T2-mapping also shows a decrease of T2 in the areas with A23187. Image quantitation, which includes a chemical-shift effect, significantly enhances the sensitivity for detection of superparamagnetically labeled T-cells. Localization of labeled T-cells in rat testicles has been verified by fluorescence microscopy studies of T-cells co-labeled with a lipophilic fluorescent carbocyanine dye, 1,1-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethyl-lindocarbocyanine perchlorate. These results represent the first successful demonstration of dynamic tracking of specific cells in vivo using MRI.