Magnetic Particle Imaging: A Novel in Vivo Imaging Platform for Cancer Detection

Nano Lett. 2017 Mar 8;17(3):1648-1654. doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.6b04865. Epub 2017 Feb 21.


Cancer remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Biomedical imaging plays a crucial role in all phases of cancer management. Physicians often need to choose the ideal diagnostic imaging modality for each clinical presentation based on complex trade-offs among spatial resolution, sensitivity, contrast, access, cost, and safety. Magnetic particle imaging (MPI) is an emerging tracer imaging modality that detects superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) nanoparticle tracer with high image contrast (zero tissue background signal), high sensitivity (200 nM Fe) with linear quantitation, and zero signal depth attenuation. MPI is also safe in that it uses safe, in some cases even clinically approved, tracers and no ionizing radiation. The superb contrast, sensitivity, safety, and ability to image anywhere in the body lends MPI great promise for cancer imaging. In this study, we show for the first time the use of MPI for in vivo cancer imaging with systemic tracer administration. Here, long circulating MPI-tailored SPIOs were created and administered intravenously in tumor bearing rats. The tumor was highlighted with tumor-to-background ratio of up to 50. The nanoparticle dynamics in the tumor was also well-appreciated, with initial wash-in on the tumor rim, peak uptake at 6 h, and eventual clearance beyond 48 h. Lastly, we demonstrate the quantitative nature of MPI through compartmental fitting in vivo.

Keywords: Magnetic particle imaging; cancer imaging; medical imaging; nanoparticles.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Contrast Media / analysis*
  • Female
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles / analysis*
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles / ultrastructure
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Rats


  • Contrast Media
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles