Tracking immune cells in vivo using magnetic resonance imaging

Nat Rev Immunol. 2013 Oct;13(10):755-63. doi: 10.1038/nri3531. Epub 2013 Sep 10.


The increasing complexity of in vivo imaging technologies, coupled with the development of cell therapies, has fuelled a revolution in immune cell tracking in vivo. Powerful magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods are now being developed that use iron oxide- and ¹⁹F-based probes. These MRI technologies can be used for image-guided immune cell delivery and for the visualization of immune cell homing and engraftment, inflammation, cell physiology and gene expression. MRI-based cell tracking is now also being applied to evaluate therapeutics that modulate endogenous immune cell recruitment and to monitor emerging cellular immunotherapies. These recent uses show that MRI has the potential to be developed in many applications to follow the fate of immune cells in vivo.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Tracking / methods*
  • Contrast Media / chemistry
  • Ferric Compounds / chemistry
  • Fluorine / chemistry*
  • Fluorocarbons / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Immunotherapy
  • Isotopes
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetics / instrumentation
  • Magnetics / methods
  • Staining and Labeling / methods*


  • Contrast Media
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Isotopes
  • ferric oxide
  • Fluorine