A novel dual imaging probe for in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and optical imaging was developed by combining gadolinium (Gd)-chelating MR probe and a near-infrared (NIR) fluorophore, aza-BODIPY (AB; BODIPY = boron-dipyrromethene). This aza-BODIPY-based bimodal contrast agent (AB-BCA) showed a significant fluorescence emission around the NIR range and an enhanced longitudinal relaxivity in MR modality. The probe was easily delivered to phagocytic cells of the innate immune system, together with macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs), and presented high-performance fluorescence and MR imaging without obvious cytotoxicity. For in vivo visualization of AB-BCA using MRI and optical imaging, bone marrow-derived DCs were labeled and injected into the footpad of mice, and labeled DCs were tracked in vivo. We observed the migration of AB-BCA-labeled DCs into the lymph nodes via lymphatic vessels using NIR fluorescence and T1-weighted MR images. This dual-modality imaging probe was used for noninvasive monitoring of DC migration into lymph nodes and could be useful for investigating advanced cellular immunotherapy.
E. - J. Kim, Bhuniya, S., Lee, H., Kim, H. Min, Shin, W. Sup, Kim, J. Seung, and Hong, K. Soo, “In Vivo Tracking of Phagocytic Immune Cells Using a Dual Imaging Probe with Gadolinium-Enhanced MRI and Near-Infrared Fluorescence”, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, vol. 8, pp. 10266-10273, 2016.