Department of Tumor Immunology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center and Nijmegen Center for Molecular Life Sciences, Geert Grooteplein 28, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
The success of cellular therapies will depend in part on accurate delivery of cells to target organs. In dendritic cell therapy, in particular, delivery and subsequent migration of cells to regional lymph nodes is essential for effective stimulation of the immune system. We show here that in vivo magnetic resonance tracking of magnetically labeled cells is feasible in humans for detecting very low numbers of dendritic cells in conjunction with detailed anatomical information. Autologous dendritic cells were labeled with a clinical superparamagnetic iron oxide formulation or (111)In-oxine and were co-injected intranodally in melanoma patients under ultrasound guidance. In contrast to scintigraphic imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allowed assessment of the accuracy of dendritic cell delivery and of inter- and intra-nodal cell migration patterns. MRI cell tracking using iron oxides appears clinically safe and well suited to monitor cellular therapy in humans.