Multispectral MRI with dual fluorinated probes to track mononuclear cell activity in mice

Cristina Chirizzi, Davide De Battista, Ilaria Tirotta, Pierangelo Metrangolo, Giancarlo Comi, Francesca Baldelli Bombelli, Linda Chaabane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: MRI with fluorine 19 (19F) probes has shown an ability to track immune cell activity with a specific, stable, and quantitative signal. In addition, the chemical shift differences of selected 19F probes make dual-probe imaging possible. To improve 19F MRI sensitivity for dual-probe imaging, optimal fluorine probes are needed. Purpose: To develop multispectral 19F MRI to image immune cell activity in vivo using 19F nanoparticles of two distinct fluorocarbons. Materials and Methods: Both 19F nanoparticles formulated with two fluorocarbons with distinct resonance frequencies and a high fluorine payload were characterized in terms of size, stability, MR profile, and relaxation times at 7 T. 19F MRI sensitivity was tested on labeling cells both in vitro and in vivo in C57BL/6 mice after conditional ablation of myeloid cells through the inhibition of colony-stimulating factor-1 receptor (CSF1Ri) to monitor the change of immune cells phagocytosis. Fluorine MRI data were acquired at the resonance frequency of each fluorocarbon by using a three-dimensional fast spin-echo sequence. Fluorescent dyes were also inserted into 19F nanoparticles to allow flow-cytometric and confocal microscopy analysis of labeled cells. Fluorine signal-tonoise ratio (SNR) was compared by using two-way repeated measures analysis of variance with Bonferroni post hoc correction. Results: Fluorine MRI demonstrated high sensitivity and high specificity in the imaging of mononuclear cells both in vitro and in vivo. In combination with proton MRI, a map of 19F nuclei from each fluorocarbon was obtained without overlaps or artifacts. In vitro cell viability was unchanged, and 8000 cells with a high SNR (.8) were detected. In vivo high fluorine signal was observed in the bone marrow (SNR . 15) immediately after CSF1Ri treatment interruption, which correlated with high uptake by neutrophils and monocytes at flow cytometry. Conclusion: By assessing in vivo MRI of mononuclear cell phagocytic ability with 19F nanoparticles, MRI with dual 19F probes can effectively track immune cell activity in combination with current MRI protocols.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-357
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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