Research Articles

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TOMOGRAPHY, March 2016, Volume 2, Issue 1: 26-34
DOI: 10.18383/j.tom.2016.00103

Pre-labeling of Immune Cells in Normal Bone Marrow and Spleen for Subsequent Cell Tracking by MRI

Gabrielle M. Siegers1, Shruti Krishnamoorthy1,2, Laura E. Gonzalez-Lara1, Catherine McFadden1, Yuhua Chen1, and Paula J. Foster1,2

1Imaging Research Laboratories, Robarts Research Institute, London, Ontario, Canada; and 2Department of Medical Biophysics, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada


Iron particles are intravenously (IV) administered to label cells in vivo during magnetic resonance imaging. This technique has been extensively used to monitor immune cells in the context of inflammatory diseases. Here, we have investigated whether resting immune cells can be labeled in vivo in healthy mice before disease onset or injury, thus allowing visualization of critical early cellular events. Using 1.5 T magnetic resonance imaging, we were able to detect signal loss in bone marrow, liver, and spleen as early as 1 hour after the IV injection of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (Feridex; 80 to 120 nm in diameter) or larger micron-sized iron oxide particles (Bangs; 0.9 µm in diameter). Results were confirmed via histology. Further, flow cytometric analysis confirmed the presence of iron-labeled CD19+ B cells, CD3+ T cells, and CD11b+ myeloid cells within the spleen and the bone marrow. Extending this work to a murine model of multiple sclerosis, we IV administered superparamagnetic iron oxide to healthy mice 1 week before inducing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Images acquired 1 week after the onset of hindlimb paralysis showed regions of signal hypointensity in the mouse brain that corresponded with iron-labeled macrophages. In summary, we show that resting immune cells in the healthy mouse liver, spleen, and bone marrow can be prelabeled with iron oxide nanoparticles. Furthermore, iron oxide preloading of immune cells in the reticuloendothelial system can be used to detect cellular infiltration in the brains of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis mice.


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