Imaging inflammation in stroke using magnetic resonance imaging

Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Nov;48(11):718-28. doi: 10.5414/cpp48718.


Stroke is the third leading cause of death, after myocardial infarction and cancer, and the leading cause of permanent disability in Western countries. Although anti-inflammatory drugs have shown very promising results in preclinical rodent studies, they appeared to be ineffective against stroke in clinical trials. In this context, non-invasive detection of inflammatory cells after brain ischemia could be helpful (i) to select patients who may benefit from anti-inflammatory treatment, and/or (ii) to target an adequate individualized therapeutic time window. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) coupled with injection of iron oxide nanoparticles, a contrast agent taken up by macrophages ex vivo and in vivo, appears to be a promising tool for this purpose. This review focuses on the use of this technique to image inflammation in pre-clinical and clinical studies of stroke. Despite current limitations, MRI of inflammation may become an important tool for the investigation of novel ischemic stroke therapeutics targeting inflammation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnosis
  • Brain Ischemia / pathology
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / diagnosis*
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Metal Nanoparticles
  • Patient Selection
  • Rodentia
  • Stroke / diagnosis*
  • Stroke / pathology


  • Ferric Compounds
  • ferric oxide