19F magnetic resonance imaging for stem/progenitor cell tracking with multiple unique perfluorocarbon nanobeacons

FASEB J. 2007 Jun;21(8):1647-54. doi: 10.1096/fj.06-6505com. Epub 2007 Feb 6.


MRI has been employed to elucidate the migratory behavior of stem/progenitor cells noninvasively in vivo with traditional proton (1H) imaging of iron oxide nanoparticle-labeled cells. Alternatively, we demonstrate that fluorine (19F) MRI of cells labeled with different types of liquid perfluorocarbon (PFC) nanoparticles produces unique and sensitive cell markers distinct from any tissue background signal. To define the utility for cell tracking, mononuclear cells harvested from human umbilical cord blood were grown under proendothelial conditions and labeled with nanoparticles composed of two distinct PFC cores (perfluorooctylbromide and perfluoro-15-crown-5 ether). The sensitivity for detecting and imaging labeled cells was defined on 11.7T (research) and 1.5T (clinical) scanners. Stem/progenitor cells (CD34+ CD133+ CD31+) readily internalized PFC nanoparticles without aid of adjunctive labeling techniques, and cells remained functional in vivo. PFC-labeled cells exhibited distinct 19F signals and were readily detected after both local and intravenous injection. PFC nanoparticles provide an unequivocal and unique signature for stem/progenitor cells, enable spatial cell localization with 19F MRI, and permit quantification and detection of multiple fluorine signatures via 19F MR spectroscopy. This method should facilitate longitudinal investigation of cellular events in vivo for multiple cell types simultaneously.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fetal Blood
  • Fluorine
  • Fluorocarbons* / pharmacokinetics
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Isotopes
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Methods
  • Mice
  • Nanoparticles
  • Neoplasms, Experimental


  • Fluorocarbons
  • Isotopes
  • Fluorine