Purpose: To quantify small amounts of iron-labeled cells in mouse brains with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Procedures: Iron-labeled cells (from 500 to 7,500) were stereotaxically transplanted into the brain of living mice that were subsequently imaged with MRI at 4.7 T. We compared four quantitative methods: (1) T2 relaxometry, (2) T2* relaxometry, (3) the volume of the cloverleaf hypointense artifact generated on T2*-weighted images, and (4) the volume of the cloverleaf hyperintense artifact generated on positive contrast images.
Results: The methods based on relaxometry, whether T2 or T2*, did not correlate with the number of injected cells. By contrast, those based on measurement of cloverleaf artifact volume, whether using negative or positive enhancement, showed a significant linear relationship for the given range of cells (R [0.92-0.95], p < 0.05).
Conclusions: T2* artifact volume imaging (negative or positive) appears promising for the quantification of magnetically labeled cells following focal injection in the brain.