High-resolution cellular MRI: gadolinium and iron oxide nanoparticles for in-depth dual-cell imaging of engineered tissue constructs

ACS Nano. 2013 Sep 24;7(9):7500-12. doi: 10.1021/nn401095p. Epub 2013 Aug 20.


Recent advances in cell therapy and tissue engineering opened new windows for regenerative medicine, but still necessitate innovative noninvasive imaging technologies. We demonstrate that high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows combining cellular-scale resolution with the ability to detect two cell types simultaneously at any tissue depth. Two contrast agents, based on iron oxide and gadolinium oxide rigid nanoplatforms, were used to "tattoo" endothelial cells and stem cells, respectively, with no impact on cell functions, including their capacity for differentiation. The labeled cells' contrast properties were optimized for simultaneous MRI detection: endothelial cells and stem cells seeded together in a polysaccharide-based scaffold material for tissue engineering appeared respectively in black and white and could be tracked, at the cellular level, both in vitro and in vivo. In addition, endothelial cells labeled with iron oxide nanoparticles could be remotely manipulated by applying a magnetic field, allowing the creation of vessel substitutes with in-depth detection of individual cellular components.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Vessels / cytology*
  • Blood Vessels / growth & development
  • Cell Tracking / methods
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Contrast Media / chemical synthesis
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology*
  • Endothelial Cells / physiology
  • Gadolinium* / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles* / chemistry
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles* / ultrastructure
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*


  • Contrast Media
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles
  • Gadolinium