Molecular imaging in tracking tumor-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs)

Theranostics. 2014 Jul 28;4(10):990-1001. doi: 10.7150/thno.9268. eCollection 2014.


Despite the remarkable progress of adoptive T cell therapy in cancer treatment, there remains an urgent need for the noninvasive tracking of the transfused T cells in patients to determine their biodistribution, viability, and functionality. With emerging molecular imaging technologies and cell-labeling methods, noninvasive in vivo cell tracking is experiencing impressive progress toward revealing the mechanisms and functions of these cells in real time in preclinical and clinical studies. Such cell tracking methods have an important role in developing effective T cell therapeutic strategies and steering decision-making process in clinical trials. On the other hand, they could provide crucial information to accelerate the regulatory approval process on the T cell therapy. In this review, we revisit the advances in tracking the tumor-specific CTLs, highlighting the latest development in human studies and the key challenges.

Keywords: adoptive T cell transfer; cell labeling.; cytotoxic T cells; immunotherapy; molecular imaging; noninvasive cell tracking.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Tracking*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Staining and Labeling
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / physiology*