In vivo imaging of immune cell trafficking in cancer

Luisa Ottobrini, Cristina Martelli, Daria Lucia Trabattoni, Mario Clerici, Giovanni Lucignani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tumour establishment, progression and regression can be studied in vivo using an array of imaging techniques ranging from MRI to nuclear-based and optical techniques that highlight the intrinsic behaviour of different cell populations in the physiological context. Clinical in vivo imaging techniques and preclinical specific approaches have been used to study, both at the macroscopic and microscopic level, tumour cells, their proliferation, metastasisation, death and interaction with the environment and with the immune system. Fluorescent, radioactive or paramagnetic markers were used in direct protocols to label the specific cell population and reporter genes were used for genetic, indirect labelling protocols to track the fate of a given cell subpopulation in vivo. Different protocols have been proposed to in vivo study the interaction between immune cells and tumours by different imaging techniques (intravital and whole-body imaging). In particular in this review we report several examples dealing with dendritic cells, T lymphocytes and macrophages specifically labelled for different imaging procedures both for the study of their physiological function and in the context of anti-neoplastic immunotherapies in the attempt to exploit imaging-derived information to improve and optimise anti-neoplastic immune-based treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-968
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • Cancer
  • Immune cell trafficking
  • In vivo imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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