Direct Cell Labeling to Image Transplanted Stem Cells in Real Time Using a Dual-Contrast MRI Technique

Ethel J. Ngen, Yoshinori Kato, Dmitri Artemov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Exogenous direct cell labeling with superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) is currently the most employed cell-labeling technique for tracking transplanted cells using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Although SPION-based cell labeling is effective for monitoring cell delivery and migration, monitoring cell survival is still a challenge. This unit describes an MRI technique that permits detection of the delivery, migration, and death of transplanted cells. This dual-contrast technique involves labeling cells with two different classes of MRI contrast agents, possessing different diffusion coefficients: SPIONs (T2/T2 * contrast agents, with lower diffusion coefficients) and gadolinium chelates (T1 contrast agents, with higher diffusion coefficients). In live cells, where both agents are in close proximity, the T2/T2 * contrast predominates and the T1 contrast is quenched. In dead cells, where the cell membrane is breached, gadolinium chelates diffuse from the SPIONs and generate a signature T1 contrast enhancement in the vicinity of dead cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5A.10.1-5A.10.19
JournalCurrent protocols in stem cell biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Cellular MRI
  • MRI dual-contrast technique
  • cell death detection
  • direct cell labeling
  • superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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