PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Radiology and Medical Imaging

In Vivo Tracking of Transplanted Mononuclear Cells Using Manganese-Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MEMRI)
Published: Friday, October 07, 2011
Author: Kenichi Odaka et al.

by Kenichi Odaka, Ichio Aoki, Junji Moriya, Kaoru Tateno, Hiroyuki Tadokoro, Jeff Kershaw, Tohru Minamino, Toshiaki Irie, Toshimitsu Fukumura, Issei Komuro, Tsuneo Saga


Transplantation of mononuclear cells (MNCs) has previously been tested as a method to induce therapeutic angiogenesis to treat limb ischemia in clinical trials. Non-invasive high resolution imaging is required to track the cells and evaluate clinical relevance after cell transplantation. The hypothesis that MRI can provide in vivo detection and long-term observation of MNCs labeled with manganese contrast-agent was investigated in ischemic rat legs.

Methods and Findings

The Mn-labeled MNCs were evaluated using 7-tesla high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Intramuscular transplanted Mn-labeled MNCs were visualized with MRI for at least 7 and up to 21 days after transplantation in the ischemic leg. The distribution of Mn-labeled MNCs was similar to that of 111In-labeled MNCs measured with single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and DiI-dyed MNCs with fluorescence microscopy. In addition, at 1–2 days after transplantation the volume of the site injected with intact Mn-labeled MNCs was significantly larger than that injected with dead MNCs, although the dead Mn-labeled MNCs were also found for approximately 2 weeks in the ischemic legs. The area covered by CD31-positive cells (as a marker of capillary endothelial cells) in the intact Mn-MNCs implanted site at 43 days was significantly larger than that at a site implanted with dead Mn-MNCs.


The present Mn-enhanced MRI method enabled visualization of the transplanted area with a 150–175 µm in-plane spatial resolution and allowed the migration of labeled-MNCs to be observed for long periods in the same subject. After further optimization, MRI-based Mn-enhanced cell-tracking could be a useful technique for evaluation of cell therapy both in research and clinical applications.