In vitro imaging of single living human umbilical vein endothelial cells with a clinical 3.0-T MRI scanner

Z. Zhang, E. J. Van Den Bos, P. A. Wielopolski*, M. De Jong-Popijus, M. R. Bernsen, D. J. Duncker, G. P. Krestin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Iron oxide-labelled, single, living human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were imaged over time in vitro using a clinical 3.0-T magnetic resonance (MR) microscopy system. Labelling efficiency, toxicity, cell viability, proliferation and differentiation were assessed using flow cytometry, magnetic cell sorting and a phenanthroline assay. MR images were compared with normal light and fluorescence microscopy. Efficient uptake of iron oxide into HUVECs was shown, although with higher label uptake dose-dependent cytotoxic effects were observed, affecting cell viability. For MR imaging, a T2*weighted three-dimensional protocol was used with in-plane resolution of 39×48μm2 and 100-μm slices with a scan time of 13 min. MRI could detect living cells in standard culture dishes at single-cell resolution, although label loss was observed that corresponded with the intracellular iron measurements. MR microscopy using iron oxide labels is a promising tool for studying HUVEC migration and cell biology in vitro and in vivo, but possible toxic effects of label uptake and loss of label over time should be taken into account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-185
Number of pages11
JournalMagnetic Resonance Materials in Physics, Biology and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Cell tracking
  • Contrast agents
  • HUVECs
  • Iron oxide
  • Magnetic resonance imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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