Advances in monitoring cell-based therapies with magnetic resonance imaging: Future perspectives

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14 Scopus citations


Cell-based therapies are currently being developed for applications in both regenerative medicine and in oncology. Preclinical, translational, and clinical research on cell-based therapies will benefit tremendously from novel imaging approaches that enable the effective monitoring of the delivery, survival, migration, biodistribution, and integration of transplanted cells. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offers several advantages over other imaging modalities for elucidating the fate of transplanted cells both preclinically and clinically. These advantages include the ability to image transplanted cells longitudinally at high spatial resolution without exposure to ionizing radiation, and the possibility to co-register anatomical structures with molecular processes and functional changes. However, since cellular MRI is still in its infancy, it currently faces a number of challenges, which provide avenues for future research and development. In this review, we describe the basic principle of cell-tracking with MRI; explain the different approaches currently used to monitor cell-based therapies; describe currently available MRI contrast generation mechanisms and strategies for monitoring transplanted cells; discuss some of the challenges in tracking transplanted cells; and suggest future research directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number198
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 19 2017


  • Cell-based therapies
  • Cell-tracking
  • Cellular MRI
  • Environmentallyresponsive MRI biosensors
  • MRI contrast agents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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