Tracking T-cells in vivo with a new nano-sized MRI contrast agent

Nanomedicine. 2012 Nov;8(8):1345-54. doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2012.02.017. Epub 2012 Mar 7.


Non-invasive in vivo tracking of T-cells by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can lead to a better understanding of many pathophysiological situations, including AIDS, cancer, diabetes, graft rejection. However, an efficient MRI contrast agent and a reliable technique to track non-phagocytic T-cells are needed. We report a novel superparamagnetic nano-sized iron-oxide particle, IOPC-NH2 series particles, coated with polyethylene glycol (PEG), with high transverse relaxivity (250 s(-1) mM(-1)), thus useful for MRI studies. IOPC-NH2 particles are the first reported magnetic particles that can label rat and human T-cells with over 90% efficiency, without using transfection agents, HIV-1 transactivator peptide, or electroporation. IOPC-NH2 particles do not cause any measurable effects on T-cell properties. Infiltration of IOPC-NH2-labeled T-cells can be detected in a rat model of heart-lung transplantation by in vivo MRI. IOPC-NH2 is potentially valuable contrast agents for labeling a variety of cells for basic and clinical cellular MRI studies, e.g., cellular therapy.

From the clinical editor: In this study, a novel PEG coated superparamagnetic nano-sized iron-oxide particle was investigated as a T-cell labeling agent for MRI studies. The reported particles can label T-cells with over 90% efficiency, without using transfection agents, HIV-1 transactivator peptide, or electroporation, therefore may enable more convenient preclinical call labeling studies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Tracking*
  • Contrast Media*
  • Ferric Compounds / chemistry*
  • Heart-Lung Transplantation
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry
  • Radiography
  • Rats
  • Regenerative Medicine
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / diagnostic imaging


  • Contrast Media
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles
  • ferric oxide
  • Polyethylene Glycols