Fluorine-19 MRI for visualization and quantification of cell migration in a diabetes model

Magn Reson Med. 2007 Oct;58(4):725-34. doi: 10.1002/mrm.21352.


This article describes an in vivo imaging method for visualizing and quantifying a specific cell population. Cells are labeled ex vivo with a perfluoropolyether nanoparticle tracer agent and then detected in vivo using (19)F MRI following cell transfer. (19)F MRI selectively visualizes only the labeled cells with no background, and a conventional (1)H image taken in the same imaging session provides anatomical context. Using the nonobese diabetic mouse, an established model of type 1 diabetes, (19)F MRI data were acquired showing the early homing behavior of diabetogenic T cells to the pancreas. A computational algorithm provided T cell counts in the pancreas. Approximately 2% of the transferred cells homed to the pancreas after 48 hr. The technique allows for both unambiguous detection of labeled cells and quantification directly from the in vivo images. The in vivo quantification and cell trafficking patterns were verified using (19)F spectroscopy and fluorescence microscopy in excised pancreata. The labeling procedure did not affect T-cell migration in vivo. This imaging platform is applicable to many cell types and disease models and can potentially be used for monitoring the trafficking of cellular therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / pathology*
  • Ethers
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes*
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*


  • Ethers
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Fluorocarbons
  • perfluoropolyether