Quantification of superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO)-labeled cells using MRI

Ali M. Rad, Ali S. Arbab, A. S.M. Iskander, Quan Jiang, Hamid Soltanian-Zadeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Purpose: To show the feasibility of using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to quantify superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO)-labeled cells. Materials and Methods: Lymphocytes and 9L rat gliosarcoma cells were labeled with ferumoxides-protamine sulfate complex (FE-PRO). The cells were labeled efficiently (more than 95%) and the iron concentration inside each cell was measured by spectrophotometry (4.77-30.21 pg). Phantom tubes containing different numbers of labeled or unlabeled cells, as well as different concentrations of FE-PRO, were made. In addition, labeled and unlabeled cells were injected into fresh and fixed rat brains. Results: Cellular viability and proliferation of labeled and unlabeled cells were shown to be similar. T2-weighted images were acquired using 7T and 3T MRI systems, and R2 maps of the tubes containing cells, free FE-PRO, and brains were made. There was a strong linear correlation between R2 values and labeled cell numbers, but the regression lines were different for the lymphocytes and gliosarcoma cells. Similarly, there was strong correlation between R2 values and free iron. However, free iron had higher R2 values than the labeled cells for the same concentration of iron. Conclusion: Our data indicate that in vivo quantification of labeled cells can be done by careful consideration of different factors and specific control groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-374
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Magnetically labeled cells
  • Quantification
  • Reproducibility
  • Superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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